MARIA STUARDA by Irish National Opera
A CLASH OF QUEENS
ONE CATHOLIC & SCOTTISH, ONE PROTESTANT & ENGLISH
Irish National Opera
starring Tara Erraught and Anna Devin
Dublin (Gaiety Theatre)
(Sunday 5, Tuesday 7, Thursday 9, Saturday 11 June)
Cork (Cork Opera House)
(Wednesday 15, Thursday 16 June)
Wexford (National Opera House)
(Sunday 19 June)
Limerick (University Concert Hall)
(Wednesday 22 June, concert performance)
“a perfect example of bel canto style, telling a vivid dramatic story through music that glories in the possibilities of the human voice”
— Scottish opera director David McVicar
Irish National Opera’s new production of Donizetti’s magnificently stirring Maria Stuarda is the company’s first ever production of a work by one of opera’s most prolific and popular composers - and there will be eight performances in all. Four are at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin (Sunday 5 June at 5pm, Tuesday 7, Thursday 9 and Saturday 11 at 7.30pm), two at the Cork Opera House (Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 at 8pm), one at the National Opera House, Wexford (Sunday 19 at 8pm) and a final concert performance at University Concert Hall, Limerick (Wednesday 22 at 8pm).
The leading roles of the rival queens are taken by two Irish singers at the top of their form. Mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught, as Maria Stuarda herself, returns from starring in the title role of Massenet’s Cendrillon at the Opéra Bastille in Paris. Soprano Anna Devin, as Elisabetta, is currently engaged in performances of Handel’s Amadigi in Barcelona and Madrid, followed by a Stabat Mater through the ages tour with B’Rock Orchestra in Antwerp, Rouen and Gent.
The production reunites the director/designer team of Tom Creed and Katie Davenport, whose first INO collaboration on Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann in 2019 netted two nominations in The Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards, one for best opera, the other for best costumes.
INO artistic director Fergus Sheil, who conducts the production, says that what draws him to the work is “the presence of two towering and equally powerful characters – Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I of England. Both are regal, powerful, ruthless, charismatic and temperamental and yet both also harbour insecurities, doubts and human frailties. Two formidable queens that are cousins, rivals and ultimately enemies. Something of this scale is brilliantly suited to bel canto operas, where the duelling personalities of the two queens find endless scope in the opera’s soaring melodies, driving rhythms and gyrating vocal lines.”
“I fell under the spell of this opera,” he adds, “when I worked on it as chorus master at the 2001 Edinburgh International Festival, and I’ve harboured an ambition to bring it to the stage in Ireland ever since. But not until now have I found the right two queens available at the same time. Tara Erraught and Anna Devin both have the vocal brilliance and elegance for these imposing roles, not to mind their steely determination and charisma. I’m hoping they will behave themselves in rehearsals, but I expect sparks to fly in all directions in the performances.”
Also in the cast are Filipino-American tenor Arthur Espiritu as Roberto, the Earl of Leicester (advisor to Elisabetta but in love with Maria), Irish mezzo-soprano Gemma Ní Bhriain as Maria’s companion Anna Kennedy, Italian baritone Giorgio Caoduro as Lord Guglielmo Cecil, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and English bass CallumThorpe as Giorgio Talbot, the Earl of Shrewsbury.
In two performance (Tuesday 7 and Thursday 16 June) the role of Elisabetta will be taken by Irish soprano Amy Ní Fhearraigh, a former member of INO’s ABL Aviation Opera Studio currently based in Hannover, whose last,highly-praised INO appearance was as Gretel in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel in 2020.
The opera, with a libretto by Giuseppe Bardari, is based on German playwright Friedrich Schiller’s 1800 play, which posits a meeting between the two queens. This has no historical basis. But it serves to wind up drama and tensionbetween the characters.
Donizetti’s opera had a troubled genesis. It ran into royal resistance in Naples and censors banned it before the planned opening night in 1834. The composer was then obliged to adapt the work to a new, non-offensive libretto, and it was then performed as Buondelmonte. When it was presented as Maria Stuarda again, it ran into censorship problems in Milan in 1835. After disappearing from opera houses for nearly a century, it was revived in 1958 in a version based on a spurious score that was created in 1865, 17 years after the composer’s death. The work’s fortunes have been greatly helped since the discovery of an autograph manuscript in the 1980s that made a critical edition of the score possible. The first Irish performance, with piano accompaniment only, was given by Opera Northern Ireland at the Down Leisure Centre in Downpatrick, Co. Down on Saturday 22 April 1989. INO’s new production is the first to be given in Ireland with full orchestra and chorus.
Maria Stuarda In Focus, INO’s online introduction to the opera, takes place on Monday 30 May 2022. More information will be announced at www.irishnationalopera.ie
Irish National Opera is funded by The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon.
FULL TOUR DETAILS & FURTHER INFORMATION
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GAETANO DONIZETTI 1797-1848
MARIA STUARDA 1835
Sung in Italian with English surtitles
Running time approximately 140 minutes including interval
Maria Stuarda Tara Erraught
Elisabetta Anna Devin (Sunday 5, Thursday 9, Saturday 11,
Wednesday 15, Sunday 19, Wednesday 22 June)
Elisabetta Amy Ní Fhearraigh (Tuesday 7, Thursday 16 June)
Leicester Arthur Espiritu
Anna Gemma Ní Bhriain
Cecil Georgio Caoduro
Talbot Callum Thorpe
Conductor Fergus Sheil
Director Tom Creed
Set & Costume Designer Katie Davenport
Lighting Designer Sinéad McKenna
Chorus Director Elaine Kelly
Répétiteur Aoife O’Sullivan
Studio Conductor Molly de Búrca
Irish National Opera Orchestra, Irish National Opera Chorus PERFORMANCES
Sunday 5 June 2022 5pm
Tuesday 7 June 2022 7.30pm
Thursday 9 June 2022 7.30pm
Saturday 11 June 2022 7.30pm
Gaiety Theatre Dublin
€15, €25, €40, €50, €60 (Sunday, Thursday, Saturday)
€15, €25, €40, €50, €60 (Tuesday www.gaietytheatre.ie
Wednesday 15 June 2022 8pm
Thursday 16 June 2022 8pm Cork Opera House Cork
Tickets: €35, €45, €55 www.corkoperahouse.ie
Sunday 19 June 2022 8pm National Opera House Wexford
Tickets: €15, €32, €36, €40, €48, €80
Wednesday 22 June 2022 8pm University Concert Hall, Limerick
Tickets: €37.50 /€34.50 concession