I went to see Mary Stuart at the MN Opera tonight with my friend Nicole from choir. To sum up, Mary Stuart is in prison and wants to not be in prison. Queen Elizabeth would prefer that Mary Stuart remain in prison because Mary is the rightful heir to the throne and it would be sort of awkward to have her roaming about, plus people love Mary and hate Elizabeth so logcially the best solution to this problem is to lock her away forever...?
Anyways halfway through the first act, Mary's ex-lover convinces Elizabeth to give Mary an audience, and this is when shit gets real. Elizabeth shows up and is all "well if you admit to everything you did wrong and them a bunch of other things you didn't actually do, maybe I'll go easy on you and let you go free." So Mary starts out going "oh I'm so sorry please go easy on me etc.", but then after several minutes of listening to Elizabeth call her a dirty slut and accuse her of murdering her husband, Mary's decides she will put up with this nonsense no longer and gets all 'BACK OFF BITCH, YOUR MAMA ANN BOLEYN WAS A HO AND SO IS YOUR CRAZY ASS!", and Queen Elizabeth is PISSED, and the three dudes in the scene are standing around like "ohhhh SHIT, bitchez is CRAZY!"... and what ensues is basically one of the most awesome Opera ensemble pieces ever with dueling sopranos like whoa.
Logically, Queen Elizabeth then decides to have Mary Stuart beheaded, because she can dish it out but she can't take it. She struggles a bit with whether this is the right decision (it isn't) but goes ahead with it anyways...?
Brenda Harris (awesome) vs. Judith Howarth (awesome) in the ultimate showdown of ultimate destinly. Both are also fantastic dramatic actresses... I mean I'm partial, but I thought Harris' acting was exceptional. She managed to make Elizabeth even a little sympathetic - a monarch struggling with her lower-birth status, feeling like she needs to legitimize herself to her subjects who prefer Mary and dealing with different forces pushing and pulling her from all sides to do what they want her to do. I saw her sing Norma a few years ago but I was sitting so far back that I couldn't see any facial expressions, so having the opportunity to sit a bit closer was really nice.
So two morals come from this story:
1) Sopranos are awesome.
1) Sopranos are awesome.
2) Brenda Harris should just sing everything all the time.
Plus, I'm just saying, the tenor looked like a wet dishrag in comparison to these two. he had a nice voice but his brain was clearly not onstage. No acting or attempt at emotion whatsoever - when the guards were supposed to drag him offstage before Mary is beheaded he sort of halfheartedly flopped his arms like a dying fish to free himself, and the guys are like "oh our stage direction is to let him go, so we should probably let him go." So...the love of your life is having her head detached from her body, shouldn't you maybe seem like you care and are pissed off? Just a little bit?? GAHHH TENORS. Because there are so few of them they can get away with anything just by having pretty voices (sorry tenors but you KNOW it's true)...
So I guess there is a third moral:
3) Tenors are the worst.
Well that's all! Time for bed, hope you enjoyed this late-night, somewhat delirious, extremely mature and reasoned opera review from yours truly :)