Review Scene, Maria Stuarda, Athenaeum Theatre, 13th September 2023

Melbourne Opera, in collaboration with Opera Australia, brought the Athenaeum Theatre to life with an extraordinary performance of Gaetano Donizetti‘s tragic masterpiece, Maria Stuarda.


From the opening moments until the heart-wrenching conclusion, the audience was immersed in the tumultuous realm of two formidable monarchs: Mary Stuart, the Queen of Scotland, and Elizabeth Tudor, the Queen of England.


The quality of the production was immediately apparent, with the simplicity of the opening set which served to direct the audience’s attention to the meticulous period costumes and the dramatic lighting effects.  The score, conducted by Raymond Lawrence, harmonized seamlessly with the Melbourne Opera orchestra. The music itself was a delightful journey through beauty and vitality.


The entire supporting ensemble delivered flawless performances, with Caroline Vercoe portraying Anna with passion and precision. TenorHenry Choo’s portrayal of the Earl of Leicester, torn between his loyalty to Elizabeth and his love for Maria, was a finely tuned balancing act. Bass, Eddie Muliaumaseali’i remained unwavering as Lord Cecil, faithfully standing beside Elizabeth.


The audience was privileged to experience the sublime voices of two sopranos, each infusing their characters with distinct depth and dimension. Eleanor Greenwood’s portrayal of Elisabeth emerged as a highlight of the opera. Her flawless performance in the initial scenes captivated the audience, expertly conveying a range of emotions, from rage, vulnerability, and insecurity


Helena Dix, in the role of Maria, truly shone as the opera’s crowning jewel. Her performance left the audience spellbound, stirring deep emotions of anguish and sorrow. Her vocal mastery highlighted the sheer strength of her voice. Her portrayal was nothing short of flawless, skillfully capturing Maria’s courage in her final days and the suffering she endured under Elizabeth’s reign. The grand finale served as a poignant climax, ultimately leading to Maria’s tragic execution.


This production of Maria Stuarda has served as a testament to the enduring ability of Melbourne Opera and its ability to immerse us in the lives and emotions of historical figures, ultimately leaving the audience enrichedenthralled, and deeply moved by the experience.

For more information, see Victoria Opera