What would have happened had England’s Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I met face to face? A thrilling imagining of this showdown is at the heart of this opera about Mary Queen of Scots’ political and personal rivalry with Queen Elizabeth I. These two fearsome rivals embody different perceptions of royalty, which were very much in direct conflict at that moment in time, and the opera’s drama is true to history in a way the facts are not.
Soprano Diana Damrau, following her triumph as Violetta in last season’s new production of Verdi’s La Traviata, stars as the martyred Mary Queen of Scots in Donizetti’s bel canto showcase. Star mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton is her imperious rival Queen Elizabeth I, and the silken-voiced tenor Stephen Costello is the noble Earl of Leicester. Maurizio Benini conducts Sir David McVicar’s handsome production.