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Donizetti - Mary Stuart / Baker, Plowright, Rendell, Tomlinson, Opie, Bostock, Mackerras, English National Opera

8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The ill-fated Queen of Scots has always exerted a powerful fascination: she has appeared on stage, film and television and in countless novels and biographies. Donizetti's opera offers a great singing-actress untold opportunities. Mary portrays a memorable range of human emotion in the scenes leading to her execution - optimism, regret, love, remorse, despair and in the climactic scene of the fictitious encounter with her persecutor, Elizabeth I, the royal pride and defiance that are her undoing.


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Janet Baker, Rosalind Plowright
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kultur Video
  • DVD Release Date: April 26, 2005
  • Run Time: 135 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007TFI9C
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,805 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Donizetti - Mary Stuart / Baker, Plowright, Rendell, Tomlinson, Opie, Bostock, Mackerras, English National Opera" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By GEORGE RANNIE on April 22, 2005
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Janet Baker was a wonderful artist and will be remembered very fondly as a supreme interpreter of so-called "Art-Songs" and Oratorios. However, she was also a wonderful opera singer always selecting carefully her roles and performing them exquisitely with great artistry (examples are Handle's "Julius Caesar", Gluck's "Alceste", Massenet's "Werther" (Charlotte) and, of course Donizetti's "Mary Stuart"). (I owned an audio recording of this performance many years ago and loved it sharing it with other opera fanatics that I was friends with in order to prove to them that there was more to Janet Baker than her just being a singer of Oratorios which some of them erroneously believed!) I'm thrilled with this DVD because it gives me the opportunity to view Janet Baker in action on an operatic stage in one of her greatest roles; she was a wonderful actress as well as a fantastic singer. Thus, making her a superb singing actress-in the very best sense of the phrase! In fact, all of the singers, in this production, are really into their roles with Janet Baker being truly amazing! The opera is performed in an English translation which is something I usually avoid; however, it is a really good translation with the singers enunciating very well. The translator of the libretto must have had operatic vocal training because he/she was very cognoscente of what it takes to sing opera--the English translation "fits" each singer's voice very well (it also fits the music wonderfully!).
Janet Baker was at the very height of her powers in this performance giving a truly mesmerizing account of Donizetti's Mary Stuart. She is able to meet every vocal challenge Donizetti throws at her. From full throttled high notes as well as low ones to unearthly pianissimos and everything in-between.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robert Baksa on May 20, 2007
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I am not a great fan of Donizetti so this opera is only of minimal interest to me. What makes this DVD so valuable is the performance. How wonderful to have a document of Baker's artistry. She is totally immersed in the drama as a start and the voice never less than secure technically and unfailingly beautiful. I'm a jaw watcher when it comes to opera. A poor technique usually shows up in a wobble in the jaw which means a wobble in the voice. Baker's whole performance is an object lesson in the highest possible standard of performance. The rest of the cast, peopled with stalwarts of English Operatic life, in generally very strong. Plowright, much too beautiful to portray Elisabeth I, is fine dramatically. But she is clearly uncomfortable with the tessitura of her role. She eventually switched to mezzo roles. Would that she could have seen the wisdom of this move at an earlier date than this performance.

The English translation serves its purpose well and lets us see the involvement of all the principles in the drama. Above all, recommnded for Dame Janet.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Reviewer on November 8, 2008
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... and she was the best of her era, bar none. This performance as Mary Stuart was her own choice for her "farewell" to the London operatic stage in 1982, though she continued to sing in recitals and concert performances of the Mahler Lieder. Her Mahler recordings with John Barbirolli are absolute treasures. She also became "chancellor" of some British academic institution or other. It wasn't only her natural voice that made her great, but also her totally tasteful, musically insightful use of it. Her career preceded the era of "historically informed" vocal techniques for singing Donizetti and Handel -- among her favorites -- but her mastery of trills and embellishments was instinctively brilliant. She was more than a singer; she was a total musician.

This English-translation version of Mary Stuart allows Baker to sing a tribute to her British heritage, much like the tribute with which Shakespeare ended his cycle of history plays. I don't suppose Donizetti had such a patriotic upswelling in mind, but Baker and Company pulled it off splendidly. This is an opulent production, a costumer's paradise. It suits the opera, and it serves the public well, sending dame janet into retirement with proper pomp and circumstance. It's well filmed and well recorded also, and the acting is better than many recent blockbuster movies about the Elizabethans. Rosalind Plowright acts the role of a jealous, tyrannical Elizabeth quite convincingly. History buffs might be perturbed at such a portrayal, but it's patently what Donizetti had in mind, and it's equally consistent with Schiller's drama on which the opera libretto was based.

Some critics have complained that Plowright sounded strained in her coloratura passages. Perhaps she did, but to my ears she sang both affectively and appealingly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alfredo R. Villanueva on November 5, 2011
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I first heard this opera with Callas,then saw the trilogy several times with Beverly Sills, and also acquired the monumental performance on disc by Shirley Verrett and Monserrat Caballé. This DVD deserves such distinguished company. Dame Baker knew what she was doing when she chose this role for her farewell, for she sizzles. Plowright is a worthy adversary, the production is quite sumptuous and the singing of a uniform high caliber. Maybe purists do not like the fact it is sung in translation, but it does not bother me. Do get it.
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Donizetti - Mary Stuart / Baker, Plowright, Rendell, Tomlinson, Opie, Bostock, Mackerras, English National Opera
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