The staging is gripping from beginning to end, thanks to committed acting all around . . . But this is Joyce DiDonato’s show, in a role she has made very much her own. She dominates each scene she is in, with phrase after perfectly placed phrase going straight to the heart.
“Joyce DiDonato shows even more the many sides to the character of Mary, Queen of Scots. If you should still need a repost to anyone who doubts the subtlety of the composer’s ability to characterise in music, simply play this disc. Joyce DiDonato brings out all the changing aspects of music and character with singing which is never less than of piercing beauty and truthfulness, especially in the final scene, one of the composer’s greatest inspirations.
-Music Web International
“Joyce DiDonato’s central performance is so riveting that it alone makes this disc worth purchasing. Her coloratura is always meaningful (as well as pinpoint accurate) and her since of line is immaculate. Mary’s descent to the proud by palsied Queen of the final scene is immeasurably moving.”
“As Mary, Joyce DiDonato is an absolute knock-out. She makes a tender impression with her cavatina, the regretful cantabile followed by perfectly placed coloratura in the cabaletta. She holds herself back in the ‘false canon’ that opens the confrontation before, goaded beyond endurance, she lets rip. In prison, shaking uncontrollably, she has a moving confession scene with Talbot; at the scaffold her preghiera builds up to a mighty climax before she forgives Elizabeth and bids farewell to Leicester. In all of this, DiDonato is spellbinding through perfect combination of singing and acting.
This production should be seen by anyone who thinks bel canto opera is nothing but sopranos and tenors standing around, warbling scales.”
-Gramophone ***Editor’s Choice***