Sunday, 6 July 2014

The many lives of Maria Stuarda ROH

Donizetti Maria Stuarda at the Royal Opera House, London tonight with Joyce DiDonato, perhaps the best singer in this role today. HERE is my review : Bel canto isn't realism: Maria Stuarda at the Royal Opera House. Alas, the anti-modern boors were out in force, enraged because it wasn't historical fact. Don't these people realize that Donizatti was Italian ? Or that the libretto he set was based on a translation of  Friedrich Schiller ? Or that Schiller, a German, was more interested in drama than fact, making up characters who didn't exist ?  In any case, no-one really knows the truth. Maria Stuart was surrounded by intrigue, deception, fake letters and false friends. Surely British audiernces should be educated enough to know their own history ?  Almost inevitably those who demand historically accurate productions don't actually know history. It says something about the educational level of British audiences that some demand from a production something that wasn't in the opera in the first place.

How dare Donizetti write good music for the scene in which Elizabeth and Maria confront each other ? It never happened. Should the whole scene be excised to please the anti-modern crowd ?  Composers, librettists and playwrights might pick on situations in the past,  but what they create is an imaginary reconstruction  based on their own interpretation of events. What is "beautiful" about a drama as grim as this ?

Opera is about human emotions, not about costumes or sets. What's so dangerous about human emotion ?  Unless a person is emotionally crippled, it should be posible to respond to ideas and feelings, especially in the kind of extreme situations that stimulate the imaginations of composers and playwrights.  So people don't behead each other nowadays ? Some would, if they could.  Perhaps people watchn too much TV costume drama and expect all art to be on the level of Downton Abbey. But no-one has a right to intimidate anyone else by booing. Booing is the mindset of mob violence. In other words, the actions of those who don't know or care what Schiller stood for. Or Donizetti, for that matter.

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