MUNICH: Maria Stuarda
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In Review > International

Maria Stuarda

Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz

In Review Munich Stuarda lg 618
Jennifer O’Loughlin and Nadja Stefanoff in Maria Stuarda in Munich
© Christian POGO Zach

AMERICAN SOPRANO Jennifer O’Loughlin’s well-deserved praise for her Amina in the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz’s 2015 Sonnambula raised expectations for her performance of the title character in the company’s first-ever presentation of Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda. On March 22, O’Loughlin far surpassed those expectations. Few sopranos can deliver music and text of this difficulty with such supreme understanding and astonishing, goosebump-raising virtuosity. The evenness of her registers, the strength of her top notes and her singular vocal timbre, hypnotic and sumptuous, all contributed to an overwhelming performance. 

The Gärtnerplatz assembled a first-rate cast to support its Scots queen. German soprano Nadja Stefanoff was a regal Elisabetta I. Her full, strong voice projected admirably; with the exception of a few wiry top notes, Stefanoff mastered her part with seeming ease and looked the spitting image of the historical Elisabetta in the Elizabethan-style costumes of Andreas Donhauser and Renate Martin. Romanian tenor Lucian Krasznec sang Roberto Leicester with little interpretive depth, but his lyric instrument showed extended stretches of radiance; he held his own when ascending to vocal heights and he added a touch of cream in his beguiling phrasing. Bass Levente Páll was a rock-solid, mellifluous Giorgio Talbot, and Matija Meic was an appropriately sinister Guglielmo Cecil. 

It was a special pleasure to experience veteran soprano Elaine Ortiz Arandes as Anna Kennedy. Arandes, whose voice is still in fine shape after almost thirty years as a member of the Gärtnerplatz ensemble, knows how to create a vivid impression in a subordinate role without any overt scene-stealing. Arandes’s interaction with the chorus, excellently prepared by Felix Meybier, and with other principals, was an object lesson in stage deportment. 

Anthony Bramall conducted with great feeling for the music, and his orchestra, though at times a bit thin on string sound, responded admirably. Michael Sturminger’s production relied on a rotating stage to keep the scenes moving fluidly. A few anachronisms in the set, also designed by Donhauser and Martin, were not disturbing, and for the most part, the singers could move and emote unhindered.  —Jeffrey A. Leipsic 

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