• Opera
  • Music by Gaetano Donizetti, libretto by Giuseppe Bardari, based on the play by Friedrich Schiller
  • Conductor: Giedre Slekyte
  • Cast includes Angela Brower, Anush Hovhannisyan, Carlos Cardoso
  • Stadttheater Klagenfurt, Austria
  • Performances until 2 May 2017
  • Review by Irina Antesberger
  • 31 March 2017
Maria Stuarda
5.0Reviewer's Rating

Mary Stuart`s destiny is certainly familiar to many, and in addition, the era of the Tudor dynasty has already been of great interest for numerous composers, writers and even movie companies. Gaetano Donizetti`s tragic opera is a very dramatic adaptation of the story about Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, and Queen Elizabeth I of England. Even though the original plot is based on historical events, the opera`s central episode is invented – Mary and Elizabeth never met each other, as written by Schiller, although this scene concisely points out interesting hidden dimensions of both their personalities and inner lives.

One of the conveniences of a concert performance is that audience, singers and conductor can (almost) completely dedicate themselves to the music. But the fact that emotions and the basic storyline have to be delivered to the audience still does make it a challenge. The Carinthian Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Giedre Slekyte, Klagenfurt`s first Kapellmeisterin this season, and under her baton the orchestra presents perfect timing, coordination, expression and great tonal beauty. Klagenfurt rarely experiences such sensitive, accurate and singer-friendly conducting. The Latvian lets Donizetti`s belcanto “drive” overflow into the hearts and minds of audience and singers.

The latter, so well supported by the conductor, are, of course, a big part of the evening`s success: Carlos Cardoso, for example, proves himself to a an extraordinarily talented young singer and, even though he does seem slightly “boisterous” at times, the tenor tries to keep up emotional and vocal tension. He truly sings his heart out. Secondly, there is Jisang Ryu, one of the theatre`s ensemble members. His profound bass seems to possess an endless range and leaves the audience hoping for more:  for example for an exceptional Sarastro (“The Magic Flute”, Stadttheater Klagenfurt, May, June 2017) and many other big roles of opera literature. Julia Banyai as Anna Kennedy as well as Jihoon Kwon as Sir Cecil prove once again that the Klagenfurt opera chorus possesses high-class solo voices. Then, there is Anush Hovhannisyan, an aspiring young Armenian soprano, singing the title role. The singer, whose career is only in its beginnings, shows she has the potential to sing major roles in big houses. She tries to keep the focus, especially gesturally, throughout the performance and gives a glimpse of her talent for high notes and the immense volume of her voice.

However, there is one woman who outshines everyone and everything – as soon as Angela Brower (“Elisabetta”) enters the stage, the audience is overwhelmed by the stage presence, the expression and the (vocal and physical) beauty of this mezzo-soprano. Without any forcing, her top notes slice through the orchestra, while the piani and pianissimi are beyond breathtaking. Brower possesses an incredibly wide spectrum of tonal colors, dynamic and emotions, which emphasizes the fact that she is one of the most oustanding young personalities of opera at the moment.  Well-deserved standing ovations for a superb opening!

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