Fringe Opera

Maria Stuarda

Lauriston Halls

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Miranda Heggie

Four stars

Returning to the Fringe for just their second year, this exciting new company Magnetic Opera gave a sterling performance of Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda in the intimate setting of Lauriston Halls.

Under the innovative direction of Thomas Henderson, the company make excellent use of fairly limited resources, with a simple set combined with beautifully and cleverly designed costumes and effective lighting. The real zeal of the production however, was quite rightly found in the singing, with powerful and passionate performances from each member of the cast, though sometimes the balance in ensemble passages was a bit off-kilter.

Magnetic Opera’s practice of singing all their operas in English in a bid to make the genre more accessible is justifiable, but surtitles, or even a more detailed plot synopsis would have been welcome, as even the clearest singers, even in professional companies, cannot always be 100 per cent intelligible. Nevertheless, the story is well communicated and the conflict between the two Queens at the end of Act 1 is given darkly dramatic hues with Italian soprano Francesca Matta as the vengeful Queen Elizabeth, and American Mezzo Melanie Long in the title role as the ill-fated Mary Queen of Scots.