Maria Stuarda at Irish National Opera

Therefore casting is the most important thing for INO to get right. They do, simultaneously showcasing two international Irish stars. The mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught soars in the title role, whose vocal demands surpass even those for Elisabetta, sung by the soprano Anna Devin, who also conveys the role’s greater psychological complexity with sparky understatement. Both women make deceptively light work of Donizetti’s challenging lines, so that what keeps hitting you is beauty rather than technique. Erraught nails the opera’s sweetest highlights, Maria’s confession to Talbot and her prayer before execution.

In an opera full of duets the leads are ideally partnered by the excellent voices of the supporting cast: the tenor Arthur Espiritu as Leicester, caught between the two queens; the bass Callum Thorpe as Talbot and the mezzo Gemma Ní Bhrian as Anna Kennedy, confidants and supporters of Maria; and the baritone Giorgio Caoduro as Cecil, out to get her.

Michael DunganThe Irish Times