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Seattle Opera.

Mary Stuart

Royal. Regal. Fierce.

Feb. 27-Mar. 12, 2016

Overview

By Gaetano Donizetti

HISTORIC CONFRONTATION WITH SEARING EMOTIONS. Two icons of British royalty, Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, clash in a powerful story of jealousy, pity, doubt, menace, exaltation, and remorse. Extravagant period costumes and virtuosic bel canto singing heighten the many moods of this haunting, unforgettable battle of wills. Does Elizabeth retain her nobility and show clemency to her rival? Or will spite and ambition drive her to seal Mary’s grisly fate? Join us at the palace and see!


In Italian with English subtitles |
 at McCaw Hall 
Approximate Running Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes with 1 intermission
Evenings at 7:30 PM. Sunday matinee at 2:00 PM.

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Synopsis

England, 1587

ACT I

Westminster Palace.
Queen Elizabeth I is toying with a marriage proposal from a French prince when her court asks what she intends to do about her cousin Mary Stuart, former Queen of France and then of Scotland, who has been condemned to death for conspiring against Elizabeth. Talbot, who hosted Mary Stuart during the first part of her long house arrest in England, encourages Elizabeth to be lenient, but Elizabeth’s trusted advisor Cecil fears that Mary is a threat to Elizabeth’s throne. Talbot then asks Leicester, Elizabeth’s favorite, to intercede on behalf of Mary, whom Talbot and Leicester both love. In the duet “Era d’amor l’immagine,” Leicester begs Elizabeth to meet Mary face to face. Reluctantly, she agrees.

Fotheringhay Castle.
Accompanied by her attendant, Hannah, Mary enjoys the park of the castle where she is imprisoned and recalls her happy childhood in France (aria: “O nube che lieve”). Leicester informs Mary that Queen Elizabeth has agreed to visit her, and warns her to be humble and submissive before her cousin. Using the royal hunt as an excuse, Elizabeth appears; all are nervous (sextet: “È sempre la stessa”). Although Mary begs Elizabeth to have mercy on her, Elizabeth goads and provokes Mary, who eventually explodes, calling Elizabeth illegitimate to her face.

ACT II

Westminster.
Cecil urges Elizabeth to sign Mary’s death sentence, claiming that so long as Mary lives, Elizabeth will never be safe from attempted coups. But Elizabeth is not ready to shed royal blood. Leicester’s support for Mary tips the scales: Elizabeth signs Mary’s death sentence and commands Leicester to prove his loyalty by seeing that the execution is carried out.

Fotheringhay Castle.
Cecil informs Mary that she will be executed the next day; she refuses his offer of a Protestant minister. But she opens her heart to Talbot in the duet “Quando di luce rosea,” confessing her sins and preparing to meet her maker.

The next morning, in the great hall of Fotheringhay, Mary’s friends pray with her. She forgives Elizabeth, encourages Leicester not to shed further blood by attempting to avenge her, and goes in strength to a martyr’s death.

The following historical figures are prominently mentioned in the opera:
Anne Boleyn. Elizabeth’s mother. In order to wed her, Henry VIII broke with the Catholic Church and established the Church of England. Later, he claimed she was a witch, had her beheaded, and proclaimed Elizabeth illegitimate.

David Rizzio. An Italian musician and courtier to Mary Stuart in Scotland, assassinated by rivals including Mary’s second husband.

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. Mary Stuart’s second husband died in mysterious circumstances. Mary was accused of taking a lover who then assassinated Darnley.

Anthony Babington. A young Catholic Englishman who attempted to rescue Mary Stuart from house arrest and set her on Elizabeth’s throne. He failed; was hanged, drawn, and quartered; and Mary, who knew of his plot, was convicted of treason.

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Spotlight on Mary Stuart

How much of Mary Stuart is true vs. fictionalized? What is bel canto opera and how is its music structured? Was Mary Stuart well-received when it premiered? Learn about the music and historical context of this opera in our in-depth, multimedia Spotlight Guide.

VIEW SPOTLIGHT GUIDE

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Cast

Joyce El-Khoury

Mary Stuart

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Mary Stuart, Mary Stuart
Seattle Opera Debut

Hometown: Beirut, Lebanon
Recently: Violetta, La traviata (Dutch National Opera); Pauline, Les Martyrs (Opera Rara, London); Musetta, La bohème (Dutch National Opera)
Upcoming: Tatyana Bakst, Great Scott (San Diego Opera); Liù, Turandot (Opera Philadelphia); Desdemona, Otello (Savonlinna Opera Festival)

 Last updated: February 2016

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Joyce El-Khoury

Mary Stuart

Seattle Opera Debut
Feb. 27, 28, Mar. 2, 5, 9, 11 & 12

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Elizabeth

At Seattle Opera in 2014/15: Tosca, Tosca
At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Abigaille, Nabucco; Elisabetta, Mary Stuart
Seattle Opera Debut: Leonora, Il trovatore (’10) 
Seattle Opera Artist of the Year: Serena, Porgy and Bess ('11)
Seattle Opera Young Artist: 2000/01

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Recently: Lady Macbeth, Macbeth (Theater St. Gallen); Norma, Norma (Florida Grand Opera); Abigaille, Nabucco (Opera Leipzig)
Upcoming: Chimène, Le Cid (St. Galler Festpiele); Lady Macbeth, Macbeth (Welsh National Opera)

Last updated: February 2016

View Full Bio

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Elizabeth

Feb. 27, Mar. 2, 5, 9 & 12

Keri Alkema

Elizabeth

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Elizabeth, Mary Stuart
Seattle Opera Debut

Hometown: Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Recently: Cio-Cio-San, Madama Butterfly (Teatro Municipal de Santiago); Eboli, Don Carlos (Opéra National de Bordeaux); Mimì, La bohème (Palm Beach Opera)
Upcoming: Elizabeth, Mary Stuart (Edmonton Opera); Tosca, Tosca (Canadian Opera Company); Tosca, Tosca (English National Opera)

 

Last updated: February 2016

Keri Alkema

Elizabeth

Seattle Opera Debut
Feb. 28 & Mar. 11

John Tessier

Leicester

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Nadir, The Pearl Fishers; Earl of Leicester, Mary Stuart
Seattle Opera Debut: Tamino, The Magic Flute ('11)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Nadir, The Pearl Fishers ('15); Jacquino, Fidelio ('12)

Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta
Assistant Professor of Voice, University of Alberta
Recently: Count Almaviva, Il barbiere di Siviglia, and Arturo, I puritani (Vienna Staatsoper); Don Ramiro, La Cenerentola (New Zealand Opera)
Upcoming: Camille de Rosillon, The Merry Widow (Boston Lyric Opera)

Last updated: February 2016

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John Tessier

Leicester

Feb. 27, Mar. 2, 5, 9 & 12

Andrew Owens

Leicester

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Earl of Leicester, Mary Stuart
Seattle Opera Debut

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Recently: Count Almaviva, The Barber of Seville (Florida Grand Opera); Don Ramiro, La Cenerentola (Opera Saratoga and Greensboro Opera)
Upcoming: Count Almaviva, The Barber of Seville (North Carolina Opera); Aureliano, Aureliano in Palmira (Caramoor Festival); Franz, The Book Collector, world premiere (Dayton Opera)

Last updated: February 2016



Andrew Owens

Leicester

Seattle Opera Debut
Feb. 28 & Mar. 11

Weston Hurt

Talbot

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Nabucco, Nabucco; Talbot, Mary Stuart
At Seattle Opera in 2016/17: Giorgio Germont, La traviata

Hometown: Houston, TX
Seattle Opera Debut:
Germont, La traviata (‘09)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Nabucco, Nabucco (’15); Ford, Falstaff (’10)
Recently: Germont, La traviata (New Orleans Opera); Scarpia, Tosca (Houston Grand Opera); Iago, Otello (Boston Youth Symphony)
Upcoming: Germont, La traviata (Seattle Opera); Sharpless, Madama Butterfly (Berkshire Opera)

Last updated: February 2016

Weston Hurt

Talbot

Feb. 27, 28, Mar. 2, 5, 9, 11 & 12

Michael Todd Simpson

Cecil

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Cecil, Mary Stuart
Seattle Opera Debut:
Hermann, The Tales of Hoffmann (’05)
Previously at Seattle Opera: John Sorel, The Consul (’14); Marcello, La boheme (’13); Escamillo, Carmen (’11)
Seattle Opera Young Artist: 2003/04; 2004/05

Hometown: Gastonia, NC
Recently: Ravenal, Showboat (Washington National Opera and San Francisco Opera); Demetrius, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Metropolitan Opera)
Upcoming: Lescaut, Manon (Metropolitan Opera); Escamillo, Carmen (Washington National Opera); Ravenal Showboat (Dallas Opera)   

Last updated: February 2016

Michael Todd Simpson

Cecil

Feb. 27, 28, Mar. 2, 5, 9, 11 & 12

Renée Rapier

Hannah

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Anna, Mary Stuart
Seattle Opera Debut

Hometown: Marion, IA
Recently: Emmeline, Mrs. Bass (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis); Cherubino, The Marriage of Figaro, and Cherubino, The Ghosts of Versailles (Los Angeles Opera)

 Last updated: February 2016

Renée Rapier

Hannah

Feb. 27, 28, Mar. 2, 5, 9, 11 & 12

Cast

Creative Team

Carlo Montanaro

Conductor

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Nabucco and Mary Stuart
Seattle Opera Debut: Don Quichotte (’11)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Nabucco (’15); The Consul (’14); La bohème (’13) 

Hometown: Cecina, Italy
Recently: La bohème (Opera Australia); Rigoletto (Warsaw National Opera); Tosca (Opéra de Monte-Carlo)
Upcoming: Carmen (San Francisco Opera); Rigoletto (Oper Frankfurt); La traviata (Dallas Opera)

Last updated: February 2016

Carlo Montanaro

Conductor

Kevin Newbury

Director

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Mary Stuart
Seattle Opera Debut

Hometown: New York, NY
Recently: The Manchurian Candidate, world premiere (Minnesota Opera); Bel Canto, world premiere (Lyric Opera of Chicago); Norma (Gran Teatro de Liceu)
Upcoming: Eugene Onegin (Portland Opera and Gran Teatro de Liceu); Fellow Travelers, world premiere (Cincinnati Opera); The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, world premiere (Santa Fe Opera)

Last updated: February 2016

Kevin Newbury

Director

Seattle Opera Debut

Neil Patel

Set Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Mary Stuart
Seattle Opera Debut

Hometown: Bangor, Gwynedd, Wales
Recently: Norma (Los Angeles Opera); Anna Bolena (Lyric Opera of Chicago); Marley (CenterStage Baltimore)
Upcoming: The Crucible (Glimmerglass Opera); Production Designer, Aardvark, Little Boxes (Feature Films)

Last updated: February 2016

Neil Patel

Set Designer

Seattle Opera Debut

D.M. Wood

Lighting Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Mary Stuart
Seattle Opera Debut

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Recently: La bohème (Boston Lyric Opera); Don Giovanni (Bergen Nasjonale Opera); Norma (Gran Teatre del Liceu)
Upcoming: 4.48 Psychosis, world premiere (Royal Opera House—Lyric Hammersmith); L’heure espanole and Gianni Schicchi (Opéra National de Lorraine)

Last updated: February 2016

D.M. Wood

Lighting Designer

Seattle Opera Debut

Jessica Jahn

Costume Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Mary Stuart
Seattle Opera Debut

Hometown: Seattle, WA
Recently: Norma (Gran Teatro de Liceu and Teatro Calderón); Manchurian Candidate, world premiere, and Carmen (Minnesota Opera)
Upcoming: The Crucible (Glimmerglass Festival)

Last updated: February 2016

Jessica Jahn

Costume Designer

Seattle Opera Debut

Joyce Degenfelder

Hair and Makeup Designer

Hair and Makeup Designer (Los Angeles, CA)

Joyce Degenfelder’s association with Seattle Opera began in 1992 with The Ballad of Baby Doe. In 2003, Degenfelder made her Seattle Opera design debut with Parsifal, and ever since she has designed makeup and wigs for all of Seattle Opera’s productions. In addition to her work with Seattle Opera, she is also wig master for Seattle Repertory Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and ACT Theater. Her work has been seen around the country including Seattle Children’s Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Alaska Repertory Theatre, and Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.

Read our interview with Joyce Degenfelder HERE.

Last Updated: October 2015

Joyce Degenfelder

Hair and Makeup Designer

Jonathan Dean

English Captions

Hometown: Okemos, MI
Seattle Opera Debut: Le nozze di Figaro ('97)
In-House Dramaturg for Seattle Opera
Previously at Seattle Opera:
English Captions Titlist (from Carmen '95 to Carmen '04); pre-performance lecturer (from Lohengrin '04 through Amelia '10); creator of the children’s operas Theft of the Gold and Siegfried and the Ring of Fire

Jonathan Dean

English Captions

Creative Team

Orchestra, Chorus, & Additional Artists

Orchestra

Violin I
Simon James, Concertmaster
Jennifer Bai, Assistant Concertmaster
Mariel Bailey
Blayne Barnes
Ayako Gamo
Timothy Garland
Leonid Keylin
Victoria Parker
Clark Story
John Weller

Violin II
Kathleen Boyer, Principal
Natasha Bazhanov, Assistant Principal
Steve Bryant
Linda Cole
Kelly Farris
Sande Gillette
Artur Girsky
Rachael Pearson

Viola
Arie Schachter, Principal
Mara Gearman, Assistant Principal
Timothy Hale
Penelope Crane
Rachel Swerdlow
Julie Whitton

Cello
Roberta Downey, Principal
Vivian Gu, Assistant Principal
Bruce Bailey
Theresa Benshoof
Charles Jacot
Rajan Krishnaswami

Bass
Joseph Kaufman, Principal
Jonathan Burnstein, Assistant Principal
Ted Botsford
Chris Burns

Flute
Jeffrey Barker, Principal
Judy Kriewall

Piccolo
Zart Dombourian-Eby, Principal

Oboe
Mary Lynch, Principal
Winnie Chengwen Lai

Clarinet
Eric Jacobs, Principal
Frank Kowalsky

Bassoon
Paul Rafanelli, Principal
Steve Morgan

Horn
Jeff Fair, Principal
Cara Kizer
John Turman
Jonathan Karschney

Trumpet
Alexander White, Principal
Vince Green

Trombone
Ko-ichiro Yamamoto, Principal
David Ritt
Stephen Fissel

Timpani
Michael Crusoe, Principal

Percussion
Michael Clark, Principal

Harp
Valerie Muzzolini Gordon, Principal

Personnel Manager
Scott Wilson

Assistant Personnel Manager
Keith Higgins

The Orchestra is composed of members of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Rotating members of the string section are listed alphabetically.

 

Chorus

Soprano
Jennifer Bromagen
Carissa Castaldo
Jennifer Cross
Karen Early-Evans
Serena Eduljee
Dana Johnson
Eleanor Stallcop-Horrox
Shelly Traverse
Kimberly Waite
Erin White

Mezzo-Soprano
Annalisee Brasil
Lorraine Burdick
Laura Eichelberger
YeonSoo Lee
Cheryse McLeod Lewis
Elizabeth Peterson
Melissa Plagemann
Allison Brooke Robertson
Susan Salas
Lucy Weber

Tenor
Nathan Barnes
Jon Farmer
Tim Janecke
Neil Jordan
Dustin Kaspar
Bob Leavens
Joshua Quesada
Derek Sellers
Logan Skirm
Stephen Wall

Bass
Ryan Bede
Michael Dunlap
Craig Grayson
Glenn Guhr
Michael Heitmann
Gregory Lewis
Dierre Lopez
Misha Myznikov
Revere Taylor
Brett Youngquist

Supernumeraries

Hypatia Aldrich
Lucy Durham
Richard Eidal
Kendall Green
Eliana Herrick
Robert Pillitteri

Actors

Rich Lewis
Neil McLaughlin
T.J. Mustard
Brendan Toner

Orchestra, Chorus, & Additional Artists

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All performances take place at McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer Street, Seattle. Join our email list to receive personalized alerts with updates on traffic, dining, and parking for your specific performance, or choose a topic below to learn more.

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Production Sponsors

Tagney Jones Family Fund at Seattle Foundation
Lenore M. Hanauer

Main Photo © Philip Newton | Photos © Philip Newton