A lavish but abridged version which combines the Donizetti opera and the Schiller play
This is a bit of a curiosity. Spoken dialog, in German, from the Schiller play, is interspersed with highlights of the Donizetti opera. There are three full casts: the filmed actors are Czech; their German dialog is dubbed by German actors; and the music is a Decca recording with Sutherland, Pavarotti, James Morris, and others, conducted by Richard Bonynge with an orchestra from Bologne. The spoken dubbing is fine. Lip-synching of the vocal parts is not as successful, but is rarely distracting except for the the part of Roberto. The singing is first-rate. A surprise for me was the wonderful (vocal) Elizabeth of Hugette Tourangeau. The production, as one might expect from Petr Weigl, is anything but stage-bound, with great locations and much attention to set decoration and costuming. The selections from Schiller do not always correspond to episodes in the opera, but I found them illuminating. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the direction is the truly ambiguous moral character of Maria. She's more complex than just a subborn but wronged queen with a temper.
Don't rent this if you are looking for a definitive record of Maria Stuarda. But do see it if you don't know the work, or already know it and aren't hung-up about completeness of the musical score.
PS: The DVD can be rented from Netflix.com, where it is listed under Donizetti's Italian title of "Maria Stuarda" (Weigl uses "Maria Stuart" as his title, which is what the IMDB listing is under. Neither site indexes it under the common English title of "Mary Stuart".) The DVD is subtitled in English, but otherwise has absolutely no extra features.
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