Welcome! This is your first free article. Get more free articles when you sign up with your email.

Mary, Queen of Scots

“A thrilling, up-close encounter”

Fittingly, OperaUpClose’s new touring production of Mary, Queen of Scots opened in London’s only surviving Elizabethan church, its simple nave transformed into a theatre by means of a catwalk covered in a mirrored dance floor that reflects the beams and stonework. Two scaffold-like structures provide the lighting rig, and the tiny ensemble, led by Paul McKenzie on piano, is hidden in the chapel.

This blazing Donizetti drama marks the company’s 10th anniversary. In 2009, it performed La Bohème in a Kilburn pub and has since given 500 performances in various venues. The premise never changes – to provide opportunities for people to experience opera in their lives – and, in small venues, the experience is intensified. Sitting just feet away from singers trained to reach the back of an opera house can be thrilling, especially with powerhouse voices such as those of Philippa Boyle (Queen Elizabeth) and Flora McIntosh (Mary), but it can be aurally overwhelming until you get used to it.

Mary, Queen of Scots revolves around a fictional – and disastrous – meeting between the two women, and the focus switches from the imperious Elizabeth to Mary, who claims victory by facing her death with courage. Boyle’s impressive soprano, laser-like in accuracy and attack, matches the warmer but no less punchy mezzo of McIntosh. Together, they reign supreme, with the support of Emma Watkinson as Anna.

The men – Cecil (Jan Capinski), Talbot (Julian Debreuil) and even the ‘hero’ Leicester, sung with puppyish enthusiasm by tenor Cliff Zammit Stevens – are eclipsed by the two queens.

Director and librettist Robin Norton-Hale draws fine dramatic performances from the six-strong cast and makes the most of this atmospheric venue.

Related to this Review

The Magic FluteThe Magic Flute

Production Details
Production nameMary, Queen of Scots
StartsApril 1, 2019
EndsApril 13, 2019, then touring until June
Running time2hrs 15mins
TranslatorRobin Norton-Hale
ComposerGaetano Donizetti
DirectorRobin Norton-Hale
Musical directorPaul Mckenzie
Set designerKate Lane
Costume designerKate Lane
Lighting designerJack Weir
CastCliff Zammit Stevens, Emma Watkinson, Flora Mcintosh, Jan Capinski, Julian Debreuil, Philippa Boyle
Production managerMarco Savo
VerdictThrilling, up-close encounter with two big operatic voices
Add New Comment
You must be logged in to comment.
Amanda Holloway

Amanda Holloway

Amanda Holloway

Amanda Holloway

Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue

Invest in The Stage today with a subscription starting at just £3.98
The Stage
© Copyright The Stage Media Company Limited 2020
Linked In