Two royal queens face off in a room, delivering thundering arias. Who cares if it probably never happened in real life, especially when you have diva and mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato as Mary, Queen of Scots singing the title role in Maria Stuarda? The Houston Grand Opera production of Donizetti’s opera also features soprano Katie Van Kooten as Queen Elizabeth and tenor Eric Cutler as the Earl of Leicester, carefully negotiating his way between the two women.
Fresh off her Grammy win and performance at the Grammys (the first for a classical singer), DiDonato says if circumstances had been different, she thinks the two queens could have been friends (instead of, you know, Elizabeth ordering that her cousin Mary be executed.) “I think if they could have truly had a meeting (under different circumstances, obviously), they could have actually connected and aided each other through very trying times. However, this never happened. They were each too much of a threat to the other,” DiDonato says.
As for Van Kooten, she believes it’s been “the easy way out” to portray Elizabeth as the villain. “She felt so strongly her commitment to the people of England and peace in the nation. In this production it’s not clear who’s the good girl, who’s the bad girl. It makes you think instead of telling you what to think.” 7:30 p.m. April 21 and 27, May 2 and 4, and 2 p.m. April 29. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-228-6737 or visit www.houstongrandopera.org.
Sat., April 21; Fri., April 27; Wed., May 2; Fri., May 4, 2012