Donizetti's Duelling Queens Face-off in Alberta Premiere

Media contact: Cameron MacRae, Director of Marketing and Communications

This April, audiences will witness the dramatic showdown between two famous Tudor queens in Edmonton Opera’s season clincher, the Alberta premiere of Donizetti’s Mary Stuart.

Queen Elizabeth I and her cousin Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, never got along. Elizabeth was always afraid her Catholic cousin would usurp her throne, and kept Mary prisoner for 20 years before having her beheaded. Their rivalry, however, was only ever carried out by letter—the two queens never met.

Sensing the potential for a fiery confrontation between the monarchs, Donizetti takes generous liberties with history and crafts an operatic “what if” scenario: Mary and Elizabeth stand across from one another and engage in a tense lyrical battle. Donizetti weaves a rich narrative and creates some spectacular moments on stage; there are tears, accusations, and even a love triangle added in to up the dramatic ante.

After wowing audiences with her innovative approach to Carmen, Maria Lamont returns to direct Mary Stuart for Edmonton Opera. She was previously at the helm of Maria Stuarda for Pacific Opera Victoria in 2012, and will be reviving her concept in the Edmonton production.

Working alongside designer Camellia Koo, Lamont reimagines Donizetti’s opera and brings the British monarchs into the present. As museum staff set up an exhibit on Tudor history, the two queens step out of their frames and relive a past wrought with suspicion and turbulence.

At the heart of Mary Stuart is the powerful singing and chemistry between the two queens. “In Mary Stuart, the women dominate vocally,” Lamont says, which means casting requires “not only the high quality of both singers, but that they vocally complement each other.”

More than equipped to handle this challenge are Kathryn Lewek (Mary) and Keri Alkema (Elizabeth). The emotional ups and downs of Donizetti’s trademark bel canto (literally translated to ‘beautiful singing’) style demand versatility and precision in delivery, which Lewek and Alkema bring with great skill.

The success of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor last season proves the popularity of bel canto with Edmonton audiences, and Mary Stuart serves as the perfect way to cap off a dynamic season at Edmonton Opera.

The media dress rehearsal for Mary Stuart will be on Thursday, April 14, 2016, at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, at 7 p.m. Please RSVP your outlet's attendance to Cameron MacRae, Director of Marketing and Communications, at 780-984-3634 or

Mary Stuart will be performed in Italian with projected English translation on Saturday, Apr. 16 (8 p.m.), Tuesday, Apr. 19 (7:30 p.m.) and Thursday, Apr. 21 (7:30 p.m.).

More media releases

Celebrate Alberta Culture Days with operatic flair at Kingsway Mall

September 26, 2016

To showcase the artistic diversity of our province, Edmonton Opera brings fine operatic offerings once again to the annual celebration of Alberta Culture Days!

“We enjoy a diverse and vibrant culture in Alberta,” says Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism. “It makes us who we are and provides a high quality of life for Albertans, and Edmonton Opera is an important contributor to that.”