Opera: Maria Stuarda

What a waste of huge talents

By Stephen Pollard, July 17, 2014

Royal Opera House, London WC2

Joyce DiDonato (left)

Joyce DiDonato (left)

What is opera? One thing it isn't - or shouldn't be - is a parade of singers warbling for the sake of warbling. There is a long tradition of such productions - to wit, the regular vehicles staged for Dame Joan Sutherland to show off her vocal talents - that are more often than not hack works that would never deserve to be revived in any other context.

The ROH's production of Donizetti's Maria Stuarda falls into that category. It's a third-rate piece that is dramatically and vocally dull but has some supposed show-stoppers for singers of the calibre of Joyce DiDonato, who is in the title role. There's no other reason why it should be staged.

I'd previously thought I'd be happy to hear Ms DiDonato sing the phone-book. But this performance showed that's not true, glorious singer and actress though she is. This is a waste of some huge talents and a dull evening - even with the wonderful Joyce DiDonato.

Last updated: 12:00pm, July 21 2014