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4.4 out of 5 stars31
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 22 April 2014
I have always thought that of the three Donizetti Tudor operas, Maria Stuarda is the greatest. That was until I saw the ghastly produced and under sung performances offered up recently by Welsh National Opera. I thought may be my judgment on these works was wrong. It shows how poor performances can damage a works reputation. It was with great relief that after watching this DVD my original thoughts, that this is one of Donizetti's greatest works. I have been fortunate enough to hear many great Maria's ,Janet Baker, Joan Sutherland, Montserrat Caballe, Mara Zampieri , to name a few. Having seen Joyce DiDonato in a number of roles mostly comic or frivolous I wondered if she would have the dramatic weight both acting wise and vocally for this role. I need not have worried, she is quite superb.(Sorry Joyce for doubting you) My standard for the role of Mary has always been Janet Baker, whose performances at the English National Opera in 1973 and again in 1982 were quite magnificent. DiDonato runs her a close second, with her great technique and many colours in her voice she brings the character vividly to life, her final scene extremely moving. Elza Van den Heever is an excellent Elizabeth, she may not have the fullness and beauty of voice of Rosalind Plowright at her greatest, or the natural Italianate sound of Sonia Ganassi on the Dynamic DVD but her large well projected voice makes the scene between the two Queens very exciting. Matthew Polenzani as Leicester seems to force his tone in the first scene and the sound is a bit gritty, but he improves greatly later on, though my favourite Leicester is the young Joseph Calleja (also on Dynamic). Joshua Hopkins makes a very insidious Lord Cecil and its good to see the British singer Matthew Rose from the ROH young artist programme making his mark as Marys confidante and confessor Lord Talbot.. Maurizio Benini is well at home is this repertoire and conducts an exciting performance with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra on terrific form. What brings this performance together into a dramatic and believable whole is the production of David McVicar in magnificent sets by John Macfarlane. David McVicar tells the story clearly and succinctly in correct period. He cleverly shows the passing of time between each scene. What a relief to have a producer as servant to the composer, rather than some of the awful travesties that some opera producers foist on the public. I shall always keep my DVD of the ENO production, though sung in English it enshrines a truly magnificent performance from Dame Janet Baker. Some people reviewing this set complain that it is not Blu-ray. I have a large flat screen television and find the HD filming of this opera superbly clear and the surround sound natural and full, in fact the cannon shots in the final scene signifying the execution of Mary quite terrifying . I can fully recommend this great new performance.
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on 28 April 2014
After seeing this in a cinema broadcast from the Met I constantly accessed the Met Opera site to see when and if they would release it. It was the very best production we had seen and DiDonato's voice is out of this world. All the cast is good, set design superb and very imaginative. Camera work is good and was the same as broadcast. Highly recommended as the essential Maria Stuarda
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on 18 May 2014
Good MET production, attractive cast, very good singing and great Di Donato . The best avaible Maria Stuarda on DVD.
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on 13 August 2014
I had the great pleasure of seeing DiDonato sing this live at Covent Garden twice this summer and she was absolutely stunning. Nothing can beat her live performance of the role but this DVD is an essential addition to my collection. Also, McVicar's staging is much more sumptuous and fitting than Leiser & Caurier's was at Covent Garden this year. If you like Bel Canto opera, you should definitely get this!!! If the final act doesn't leave you gasping, you're not human.
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on 11 October 2014
I missed seeing this at the live cinema relay last year. Now I know what all the fuss was about.

This has to be the best production of Maria Stuarda in recent times. Joyce DiDonato portrays the character Maria with some real depth, and sublime clear singing. A real joy to watch. A notable highlight for me, is DiDonato's duet with Matthew Rose (Talbot) after learning of Maria's fate. Without doubt, a true master class in operatic stage craft.

I must also mention the performance of Elza Van Den Heever as Elizabeth I, she compliments DiDonato's Maria perfectly.

Top Marks also go to Producer Sir David McVicar. As I enjoyed this production so much, I'm eager to see what see what McVicar does with Donizetti: Anna Bolena [DVD] [2011] [NTSC]
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on 15 August 2014
Saw the Covent Garden production as well as this one. The Covent Garden production definitely peculiar in its costumes and staging. Like its sister production at the Met, the singers bar one were all very competent. Of course I am speaking of the divine DiDonato, who is a world-class star and, in my opinion, the greatest bel canto lyric mezzo in the world and of the last few decades. Acting superbly, singing sublimely with perfect musicality, flawless technique and acting her socks off, she makes the opera and the production the stunning production it was. Act II brought tears to my eyes. The plot is really kind of silly - two queens fighting over a rather boring man - (so what's new??) but the dramatic tension and the focus on Maria/Joyce in Act II are quite electric.
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on 8 June 2014
A beautifully costumed but no frills production that brings out the drama of Schiller's original. Overall the singing is above average, but this wouldn't be a first choice for singing except the superb Elza Van den Heever.
Joyce Di Donato gives a marvelously compelling interpretation of the title role, with some brilliant coloratura, but the pronounced fast vibrato can be a little intrusive at times, and occasionally compromises the pitch. She is nonetheless superb. The tenor is not Pavarotti - but who is!
Chorus and orchestra are of the usual high Met standard.
Recommended - but not definitive.
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on 11 September 2015
Joyce DiDonato is quite simply superb; not usually given to the "heavy stuff" she simply soars above a great cast. Four stars? The staging could have been better; a steeply raked stage which distorted the height (or otherwise ) of the cast and the oversized ping pong table did not help, nor did the , much lettered blackboard which dominates "cell" as she makes her final "confession" .to Talbot. DiDonato`s performance is controlled intensity, devoid of histrionics and deeply moving. A five star performance indeed in a production where the entire cast are brilliant.
David Erskine.
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on 14 July 2014
The sound is first rate so bringing out the powerful singing of the cast. Joyce Di Donato shows very good acting skills in the title role. Excellent production,
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on 14 July 2014
Saw the live streaming of this opera from the Met in the cinema and was pleased as punch to find the dvd on Amazon at a great price. I love this opera and I rate this production vrry highly. Joyce is superb as usual but the young South African soprana playing Elisabeth is a revelation! Her portrayal of the young queen is mesmerising and the voice is sublime. I have no quibble with the picture quality on this dvd either and would say it is high definition quality. All in all you won't find a better production in my humble opinion. Enjoy...
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