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Maria Stuarda



Maria Stuarda regina di Scozia

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Whereas Schiller’s tragedy and most operas on the story of Mary Queen of Scots concentrate on her condemnation, final confession and execution, the story of Mercadante’s opera deals with an... read more

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Song title Time Format Price
playstop01 Maria Stuarda regina di Scozia: Act I scena I: Introduzione: Ormai trascorsa e l'ora - scena II: Or che risolvero? 08:14
playstop02 Maria Stuarda regina di Scozia: Act I scena III: Duetto: Che bel piacer gradito - scena IV: Regina ? 04:31
playstop03 Maria Stuarda regina di Scozia: Act I scena V: Aria: Che fai, mio cor, che pensi? - scena VI: Venga il magnanimo 07:14
playstop04 Maria Stuarda regina di Scozia: Act I scena VI: Quintetto: Chi mai temer - scena VII: E' avvilito l'indegno! - scena VIII: Questo e il06:16
playstop05 Maria Stuarda regina di Scozia: Act I scena X: Aria: Chi mai temer potea - scena XI: Oh! Come la Regina - scena XII: Or si rinfacci 08:30
playstop06 Maria Stuarda regina di Scozia: Act I scena XII: Finale: Ma, se innocente sei! - Act II scena I: Verso la Rocca - scena II: Ormai09:20
playstop07 Maria Stuarda regina di Scozia: Act II scena III: Duetto: Ahi! Scellerati! - scena IV: Regina sventurata! 08:05
playstop08 Maria Stuarda regina di Scozia: Act II scena V: Aria: Ah! Che finor fu vano - scena VI: Or che adunati siam - scena VII: Qual dagli ? 10:39
playstop09 Maria Stuarda regina di Scozia: Act II scena VIII: Duetto: Prendi la destra in pegno - scena IX: Stelle! - scena X: Ecco I'istante 08:58
playstop10 Maria Stuarda regina di Scozia: Act II scena X: Finale: Perfido! Hai detto assai 07:30

Whereas Schiller’s tragedy and most operas on the story of Mary Queen of Scots concentrate on her condemnation, final confession and execution, the story of Mercadante’s opera deals with an earlier period of her life, when she was struggling to maintain her authority and independence from the overbearing and bullying ambitions of Scottish chieftains and nobles. One of the greatest difficulties that confronts anyone opening a score or libretto of Mercadante’s Maria Stuarda regina di Scozia is to identify just who all the characters are. Ultimately, though, does it matter? Quasi-historical figures and a plot in which the hero ultimately rescues the heroine from the villain’s clutches is simply a framework on which to hang this exhilarating music. It is clearly the music that matters and Mercadante, here in his early Rossinian manner and writing for the English prima donna, Elizabeth Ferron, pours out lashings of bel canto melody and bravura for our delight. At its Bologna performance in 1821, Maria Stuarda, in the words of a contemporary reviewer, ‘offers room for much praise’. We doubt that any of you would disagree!

This is the fifth opera in the Essential Opera Rara series and, once again, a vivid impression of the work is captured on a single disc, accompanied by a complete libretto and article by the eminent 19th century musical scholar, Jeremy Commons.

'Judith Howarth and Jennifer Larmore are on spectacular form' - Tim Ashley, The Guardian

Judith Howarth (Maria Stuarda), Jennifer Larmore (Olfredo), Colin Lee (Ormondo), Manuela Custer (Carlo), Pauls Putninš (Ferrondo), Philharmonia Orchestra, Antonello Allemandi – conductor

One of the greatest difficulties that confronts anyone opening a score or libretto of Mercadante’s Maria Stuarda regina di Scozia is to identify just who all the characters are.  Maria Stuarda herself presents no problem: she is Mary Queen of Scots.  But Olfredo Conte di ‘Lenox’?  And Ormondo Prince of the Blood?  As the introductory article to this recording suggests, Olfredo is most probably Henry Darnley, Mary’s second husband, and Ormondo perhaps the Earl of Murray or Moray, Mary’s half-brother.  But both portraits, if we try to pursue these identifications, prove far from true to their originals.  From the outset, we must realise that we are dealing with a romantic melodrama which has only tenuous connections with history.

Whereas Schiller’s tragedy and most operas on the story of Mary Queen of Scots concentrate on her condemnation, final confession and execution, the story of Mercadante’s opera deals with an earlier period of her life, when she was struggling to maintain her authority and her independence from the overbearing and bullying ambitions of Scottish chieftains and nobles.

 Act 1, Scene 1

Ormondo, a prince of the royal blood, is gathering his supporters together.  He claims to be acting to support Maria’s tottering throne, and to thwart the ambitions of Olfredo, Earl of Lennox, but we very soon realise that he is himself an unscrupulous adventurer, intent upon his own advancement and determined to bring about Olfredo’s fall by means of a forged document which will implicate him in a plot against the Queen. 

Ferrondo, commander of the royal guards, realises that in this conflict between Ormondo and Olfredo, Ormondo is likely to prove the more powerful.  He therefore decides to throw in his lot with him, and agrees to hand the forged document to Maria at the very moment when she plans to award Olfredo the Order of Scotland for his services to the throne.

Scene 2

Maria and Olfredo return to the court in Edinburgh from a hunt.  Maria orders Carlo, described as ‘the primate of Scotland’ but perhaps more properly ‘one of the primary noblemen of Scotland’, to make preparations for the ceremony in Olfredo’s honour. 

Ermanno, a shepherd from Dunbar, comes to ask that he and his fellow shepherds receive their annual wages.  Ermanno’s presence in the opera illustrates the devotion and loyalty of the Scottish peasantry to Maria. 

We learn that Carlo, on the other hand, is a rejected suitor of Maria, and has consequently joined Ormondo’s conspiracy.

Scene 3

The royal throne-room.  Maria is about to present Olfredo with the insignia of Scotland’s highest award when Ferrondo hands her the forged document, received, he claims, from an unknown hand.  She reads it, and immediately breaks off the ceremony, forbidding Olfredo to quit the court without express permission.  Ordered to surrender his sword, he does so.  He is utterly mystified as to the nature of his offence, though he is not for a moment deceived by Ormondo’s feigned sympathy.

A dismayed Maria reveals the contents of the document to Ormondo: it is a claim that Olfredo is conspiring against her throne and life.  Her reaction is to place her trust in Ormondo and grant him supreme command.  He advises her against seeing Olfredo in private, as she wishes, and, in view of the popular unrest which prevails in Edinburgh, he leaves her with Carlo and a bodyguard to escort her to Dunbar Castle, the ‘Rock of Dunbar’. 

Maria has Olfredo brought before her.  He protests his innocence, reiterates his loyalty, and – what he has hitherto hesitated to reveal – declares that he loves her.  His ardour begins to win her over, but Ormondo, Ferrondo and Carlo suddenly return, taunting him with treachery and persuading Maria to have him thrown into prison.  He is appalled to realise the danger that threatens her while she is in Ormondo’s hands, but is unable to convince her of the truth of what he is saying.

Act 2, Scene 1

Maria is being escorted to Dunbar Castle by Carlo and Ormondo’s followers when a storm forces her to take shelter in a shepherd’s hut – the home of Ermanno.  Ermanno tells her that the citizens of Edinburgh, rallying in Olfredo’s defence, have released him from prison and have tried to proclaim him king.  He, however, has remained true to Maria, rebuking his liberators and recalling them to their true allegiance.  Realising that she has wronged him, Maria declares that she must return to Edinburgh, but Carlo makes it very clear that she is now Ormondo’s prisoner and must continue to Dunbar.  He tells her that she has only two options: either to marry Ormondo or to die.

Ermanno, after Maria’s enforced departure, determines to raise a force of his fellow-shepherds to deliver her from her enemies.

Scene 2

A disconsolate Olfredo is scouring the countryside in search of Maria when he meets with Ermanno and his shepherds.  They inform him that Maria is being led captive to Dunbar, and he immediately sets out to rescue her.

Ormondo and his followers now come across the shepherds.  Hearing that Maria has been seen on her way to Dunbar, Ormondo gloats, confident that he now has her at his mercy and can force her into marriage.

Scene 3

Imprisoned in Dunbar Castle, Maria sees only too clearly that she was deceived by a forged document.  Of all the noblemen who surrounded her, she realises that Olfredo alone was loyal.  At last she recognises Ormondo as her greatest enemy.

Roberto, Keeper of the Rock of Dunbar, allows her to receive a messenger who comes in secret from Edinburgh.  It is Olfredo.  He declares that he comes either as her prisoner or as her deliverer – whichever she wishes – and she, in return, proposes that they should link their destinies in marriage.  As they express their love for each other, a cannon shot is heard announcing the arrival of Ormondo.  Maria prevails upon Olfredo to conceal himself.

Ormondo, though he still claims to be ‘the most submissive of your subjects’, presents Maria with a choice: either she will marry him or Olfredo will die.  He lays before her a document which he describes as ‘your sentence’ – presumably an act of abdication in his favour –  saying that it requires only her signature to take effect.  Indignantly she defies him, refusing to sign and denouncing him as a traitor. 

Carlo adds his voice to that of Ormondo, but at this moment Olfredo emerges from concealment, declaring that he and Maria are now husband and wife.

Ormondo orders his followers to arrest Olfredo.  The confrontation is at its most tense when a sound of arms is heard and Ermanno and his shepherds burst in.  Ormondo, Carlo and Ferrondo are arrested.  Olfredo places himself at the head of the band of liberators, and he and Maria rejoice at their delivery.

 


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