Maria Stuarda (Mary Stuart) is a tragic opera, (tragedia lirica), in two acts, by Gaetano Donizetti, to a libretto by Giuseppe Bardari, based on Andrea Maffei's translation of Friedrich Schiller's 1800 play Maria Stuart.
The opera is one of a number of operas by Donizetti which deal with the Tudor period in English history, including Anna Bolena (named for Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn), Roberto Devereux (named for a putative lover of Queen Elizabeth I of England) and Il castello di Kenilworth. The lead female characters of the operas Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda, and Roberto Devereux are often referred to as the "Three Donizetti Queens". The story is loosely based on the lives of Mary, Queen of Scots (as Mary Stuart is known in England) and her cousin Queen Elizabeth I. Schiller had invented the confrontation of the two Queens, who in fact never met.
After a series of problems surrounding its presentation in Naples after the final dress rehearsal - including having to be re-written for a totally different location, a different time period, and with Buondelmonte as its new title - Maria Stuarda as we know it today premiered on 30 December 1835 at La Scala in Milan.
- 1 Composition history
- 2 Performance history
- 3 Roles
- 4 Music
- 5 Synopsis
- 6 Recordings
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The appeal of Mary Stuart and Scottish history in 19th Century Italy
In a variety of areas - drama, literature (fiction or otherwise) - England in the Tudor era (and Scotland at the time of Mary Stuart and beyond in particular, Donizetti's own Lucia di Lammermoor being an example) exerted a fascination upon continental Europeans in an extraordinary way. In literature, it has been noted that more than 20,000 books have appeared about Mary's life and that, within two years of her death, stage plays also began to appear. In addition to Schiller's Maria Stuart, there had been another influential play, Count Vittorio Alfieri’s Maria Stuarda written in 1778 in which "that unfortunate queen is represented unsuspicious, impatient of contradiction and violent in her attachments."
When it came to what had been handed down about Elizabeth I to Donizetti and other Italian composers, opera stage director Stephen Lawless  notes that the continental view would have been very different from the Anglo-centric one of Elizabeth as Good Queen Bess, as Gloriana, and as the one who routed Catholicism from England's shores. But from an Italian perspective, Elizabeth was a heretic and, indeed, a bastard since "her father Henry VIII had never obtained an annulment from the Pope to end his marriage to Catherine of Aragon in order to marry his second wife (Elizabeth's mother) Anne Boleyn" Therefore, to European Catholics, Mary was a martyr and the legitimate ruler of England, a sympathetic character contrasted with Elizabeth, who was traditionally cast in a darker role, often "as unrestrainedly jealous, willful, and easily over-wrought. This is the portrait of Elizabeth found, not too unexpectedly, in Bardari's libretto".
As far as Italian opera of the primo ottocento is concerned, these attitudes found their way into the works which poured forth: they covered a large portion of the Tudor era, including works about Henry VIII's first daughter, Mary, who became Mary I of England, known as "Bloody Mary" for enforcing the country's strict return to Catholicism. The appeal of these operas has been expressed by Professor Alexander Weatherson in the 2009 Donizetti Society Newsletter as follows (with the addition of relevant opera titles associated with the named composers):
- Scotland’s soil was about to be profaned by a stream of operas that bore the footprint of [Elizabeth’s] rival……without Mary Stuart, Scotland might have been left in peace....In Italy alone in the earliest decades of the nineteenth century there was a Scotch broth of operas by Asap; Capecelatro; Carafa [I solitari di Scozia, 1815, and Elisabetta in Derbyshire ossia Il castello di Fotheringhay, 1818]; Carlini [Maria Stuarda, regina di Scozia, 1818]; Casalini; Casella [Maria Stuarda, 1812]; Coccia [I solitari, 1811, and Maria Stuart, regina di Scozia, 1827]; Donizetti [the subject of the Newsletter article]; Ferrari; [The Belgian], Fétis [Marie Stuart en Ecosse]; Gabrielli [Sara ovvero La pazza delle montagne di Scozia, 1843]; Mazzucato [La fidanzata di Lammermoor, 1834]; Mercadante [Maria Stuarda, regina di Scozia, 1825]; Neidermeyer [Marie Stuart, Paris 1844]; Nicolini; Pacini [Vallace, 1820, Malvina di Scozia]; Pavesi; Pugni; Rajentroph; the Ricchis [ Federico Ricci and Luigi Ricci ] [La prigione di Edimburgo, 1838]; Rossini [Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra, 1815]; Sogner [Maria Stuarda ossia I carbonari di Scozia, 1814]; and Vaccai [I solitari di Scozia, 1815] - and this is just a scratch upon the surface of the European infatuation with the decapitated Stuart and/or her northern fastness which boiled-up in the bloodbath finale of the eighteenth century, operas often rabid and inconsequential, full of fashionable confrontations and artificial conflicts, politically motivated, repetitious and soon forgotten.
But Weatherson concludes:
- At the heart of the plot, however, lay an Italian, the pulp plays and novels of Camillo Federici (1749 -1802) [the pen name of Giovanni Battista Viassolo] a former actor whose prolific vulgarizations of Schiller and Kotzebue set Italian librettists scribbling for four decades. Indeed, without him it is to be suspected that Sir Walter Scott would never have captured the imagination of so many poets, nor for so long.
The libretto for Maria Stuarda
Having seen Schiller's play in Milan in an Italian translation, Donizetti approached the famed librettist Felice Romani, who had written a successful libretto in 1830 for Anna Bolena, the opera which secured the composer's place as one of the leaders of his day. Wanting a strong and powerful subject for his new work, the composer's idea was to have Romani prepare a libretto about Mary Stuart, but the librettist appears to have ignored him, perhaps because of his desire to get away from writing for the theatre, which he increasingly found to be distasteful.
Therefore, the composer sought the services of Giuseppe Bardari (1817–1861), a seventeen year-old law student with no experience, who became the librettist, thus giving Donizetti the opportunity to work closely with him, or to even write entire scenes himself and to greatly influence the structure of the work. Schiller's play had been translated into Italian by Andrea Maffei (who also translated a number of others as well) and it was this translation upon which Bardari relied. Although he was forced to eliminate "almost all of the play's political and religious references and (reduce) the number of characters from 21 to six, the libretto does adds the love story of Mary Stuart and Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, which had no basis in fact, albeit that Leicester had been considered by Elizabeth to be a possible husband for Mary. At the time of the events portrayed, Dudley was actually 55, Elizabeth was 53 and Mary was 44.
However, the libretto does retain the fictional meeting between Mary and Elizabeth in a very dramatic confrontation. While its musical elements are noted below, "the confrontation....so essential to the dramatic structure of both play and opera, it is, surely, a translation into action of a clash which was implicit in history - of a clash which took place in the letters the queens exchanged". 
Maria Stuarda becomes Buondelmonte
After its successful dress rehearsal, the King of Naples suddenly banned performances of the opera "perhaps because his Queen, Maria Christina, was a direct descendant of Mary Stuart" or "the sight of one queen calling another "vile bastard" on the stage of the Teatro San Carlo...was too much for the Neapolitan sensibility". But it has also been simply noted by Professor Weatherson that "politics were the cause" in that reputed secret seditious behavior against Elizabeth I by Mary "made the decapitated monarch unpopular in Bourbon Naples".
Donizetti responded to the ban by suggesting another subject, that being Giovanna Gray (Lady Jane Gray), but after it was also rejected, he set about revising and removing large segments of the score and, by quickly employing Pietro Salatino as new librettist, created a different work. He named it Buondelmonte referring to a character who appears in Dante's Paradiso "who apparently caused a war between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines". But prior to its first performance, the composer expressed his concerns in a letter to librettist Jacopo Ferretti (as quoted by Ashbrook):
- There used to be six characters in all? Now there are 10 or more. You can imagine what the opera has become! The same scenery, appropriate or not, will be used. I haven't been able to bring myself to ask whether it works or not...
Inevitably perhaps, when Buondelmonte was first given on 18 October 1834 in Naples, it was not successful; it received only six performances and it was never performed again.
When forced to simplify part of the music for the original Elisabetta, Donizetti scribbled on the margin "But it's ugly!", and further on refused a change, writing "Do it, and may you live for a hundred years!"
Maria Stuarda appears in Italy: its 19th Century rise and fall
Although there was an attempt to mount Maria Stuarda at La Scala in late 1834, it came to nothing and, finally, the opera was planned to be given on 28 December 1835 at La Scala, Milan with the famous mezzo-soprano Maria Malibran (a singer who often sang soprano parts) in the title role. Donizetti "tailored that role" for her with "improved recitatives, and extended scenes". In addition, he created a new overture. The censor had approved the libretto, although Ashbrook speculates that some of the original wording had been changed to gain that approval.
In the end, the opening night performance was postponed due to Malibran's indisposition, but when it did occur on 30 December, it was clear that both lead role singers were in poor voice. Donizetti described the evening as "painful, from start to finish". It was quickly clear that the audience disapproved, as did the authorities for different reasons because, instead of singing donna vile as the substitute language for vil bastarda ("vile bastard"), Malibran rejected the censor's revisions and sang the original words. Several better-performed presentations later, the Milan censors clamped down, imposed conditions which Malibran would not accept, and she withdrew. Realizing the difficulties of a run in Italy, a London première was planned, but Malibran's death at the age of 28 in 1836 cancelled the project.
Except for the several performances of the Buondelmonte version noted above, productions of Maria Stuarda were staged in Regio Emilia and Modena (1837), in Ferrara and Malta (1839–40), in Florence, Ancona, Venice and Madrid (1840), Bologna (1841), Oporto, Portugal (1842), Granada, Malaga, and Barcelona Spain plus Venice and Padua (1843), Lisbon (1844), and finally Pesaro (1844–45), all variously trimmed versions.  Naples finally heard the opera in 1865, but the work was ignored for the next 130 years. It has been suggested that, with the exception of Venice and Naples, most of these locations "were of peripheral importance" and therefore the opera "never found its way to the stages of Vienna, Paris, or London", the Italian reception being a major requirement to launch an international success.
Revivals in the 20th Century and beyond
Prior to the discovery of the original autograph in Sweden in the 1980s, the only performances which began the 20th century revival were those of what Ashbrook described as 19th Century "sanitized" versions. The first one of the century was that given in 1958 in Bergamo, with the US premiere, in concert form, following on 16 November 1964 in Carnegie Hall. The premiere in England took place on 1 March 1966 in London. There was also a Maggio Musicale Fiorentino production in 1967 which starred Leyla Gencer and Shirley Verrett.
By the late 1980s, after a critical edition was prepared from the autograph, what was revealed at that point was that Donizetti had re-used a couple of numbers in La favorite, and that in post-Favorite performances, starting with one in Naples (1865), they had been replaced by different numbers from his other lesser-known operas.  The critical edition was first given in Bergamo in 1989 in a two-act version.
The first US staged performance took place at the San Francisco Opera on 12 November 1971 with Joan Sutherland in the title role, while the first staged performances of the "Three Queens" operas together in the US took place in 1972 at the New York City Opera, all three operas staged by Tito Capobianco. Presentations of the trio earned some degree of fame for American soprano Beverly Sills who took the starring role in each.
The opera has been given in a variety of European and North American locations in recent times, which begin to increasingly establish it as part of the standard repertoire. A production which was noted as "no longer a display piece for rival divas, nor does it maintain the simplistic view that the opera presents Mary as noble victim and Elizabeth as vengeful monster [but] here, the rival queens are both profoundly tragic, complex figures" was given by English Touring Opera in 2005 and Maria Stuarda was presented at both the Teater Vanemuine in Estonia and Pacific Opera in Victoria, B.C. during the 2011/12 season.  The opera has or will be given 86 performances of 18 productions in 16 cities between 1 January 2011 and 31 December 2013, according to Operabase.
Other US companies have presented some or all of the "Three Donizetti Queens" operas. Among them has been the Dallas Opera with both Anna Bolena and Maria Stuarda to date. The Minnesota Opera staged all three between 2009 and 2012.
In April 2012, the Houston Grand Opera presented the Minnesota Opera's production of the work, but casting mezzo-soprano Joyce Di Donato in the title role. (A mezzo singing the role is not uncommon today, as has been noted below. Miss Donato had sung the role of Elisabetta in Geneva in 2005.) The Metropolitan Opera gave Maria Stuarda, also starring Joyce Di Donato as Maria, during its 2012-13 season. As with Anna Bolena, which preceded it in 2011, this was the company's first staging of the work.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere cast, 30 December 1835
(Conductor: Eugenio Cavallini)
|Maria Stuarda, Queen of Scotland||soprano||Maria Malibran|
|Elisabetta, Queen of England||soprano||Giacinta Puzzi Toso|
|Anna Kennedy, Maria's companion||mezzo-soprano||Teresa Moja|
|Roberto, Earl of Leicester||tenor||Domenico Reina|
|Lord Guglielmo Cecil, Chancellor of the Exchequer||baritone||Pietro Novelli|
|Giorgio Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury||bass||Ignazio Marini|
The casting of Maria and Elisabetta
Originally the roles of Maria and Elisabetta were written for sopranos. However, given the precedent of Malibran singing the role of Maria, many modern-day productions, dating from the late 1950s onwards, cast a mezzo-soprano as either Maria or Elisabetta. The role of Maria was written for Giuseppina Ronzi de Begnis, who sang the soprano roles of Donna Anna, in Don Giovanni, and Norma but also the mezzo-soprano role of Rosina, in The Barber of Seville.
After the King of Naples banned the opera when it was in rehearsal, it became Buondelmonte with one or other of the queens (probably Elisabetta) turned into the tenor title-role and de Begnis singing a role called Bianca. Malibran (who sang Norma but also Leonore and Cenerentola and had a range of g-e''') then decided that she wanted to sing Maria Stuarda, which she did until it was banned again. It was performed for a time subsequently in "sanitised" form and was eventually revived in 1958, still sanitised.
As musicologist and Donizetti expert William Ashbrook notes, in many respects the musical structure of the opera is fairly straightforward and follows many of the conventions of the day. For example, Elisabeth, Mary, and Leicester "are each given a "double-aria" (a cavatina followed by a cabaletta) at their first appearances and Mary is also given one at the opera's end. However, the composer's strength lies in being able to tailor the framework to "a specific set of dramatic circumstances". Singled out is Maria's Oh nube! che lieve per l'aria/"Oh cloud, that wanders light upon the breeze" which appears in her entrance scene.
Therefore, adapting to many of the conventions of 19th Century Italian opera, which had become the tradition before he began composing, Donizetti’s work increasingly shows a shift to more dramatically complex musical forms, the aim of which is to enhance the often-dramatic confrontations between the characters in his operas. Ashbrook notes two of these conventions: the tradition of the soprano’s aria di sortita (given upon her first appearance onstage) and the typical, often florid, aria which becomes the opera’s finale. Therefore, in the case of the soprano’s entrance aria, Ashbrook observes:
- As if to counteract [these dramatic limitations], through much of his composing life Donizetti worked to expand the expressive potential of duets. The broad spectrum of dramatic situations possible for duets appealed to his strong theatrical sense, and they came to occupy an increasingly important place in his designs. It is consistent with the rising tide of Romanticism in Italian opera during the 1830s and the growing emphasis on melodramatic elements that new prominence should be placed upon duets, especially those of confrontation.
Examples occur in Anna Bolena and Maria Padilla, both of which precede this opera, but Ashbrook recognized at least two instances which evidence Donizetti’s distinctive musical genius in Maria Stuarda. One is the Leicester-Elizabeth duet (beginning with Leicester's Era d'amour l'immagine / "She was the picture of love...") which appears before Maria's entrance and where Leicester pleads for Maria while Elizabeth's "ironic interjections provide a contrast of rhythmic emphasis and melodic pattern to the tenor's balanced lyric phrases".
Most significantly, the other is in the great dramatic duet which ends act 1 (act 2 in some productions) - the confrontation between the two queens – which gives "the climactic moment something of the immediacy of the spoken theatre. In any sense, this dialogue is one of the most original and powerful passages that Donizetti ever composed" or, as another critic puts it, "so that the outrageous text is heard in shocking relief."
In regard to the music of the ending of act 2, in the dramatic action it has been noted as fitting to the "sparse, clearly-constructed action leading to an inescapable end. And since that end is the focus of all interest, it is not surprising that the final act is musically as well as dramatically the culmination of the work, growing out of but eclipsing all that has gone before".
With the delay between the cancelled performances in Naples and the premiere of Maria Stuarda in Milan almost a year and a half later, Donizetti was to replace the prelude with a full overture and added a new version of a duet between Elizabeth and Leicester using previously-written music.
- Place: Palace of Westminster, London and Fotheringhay Castle, Northamptonshire, England.
- Time: 1587.
Scene 1: Elisabetta's court at Westminster
The Lords and Ladies of the Court enter after a tournament to honor the French ambassador, who has brought a marriage proposal to Queen Elizabeth from the Dauphin François. They express their joy as Elizabeth enters. She considers the proposal, one which would create an alliance with France, but she is reluctant to give up her freedom and also pardon her cousin Mary Stuart, the former Queen of Scots, whom she has imprisoned because of various plots against her throne:(Cavatina: Ah! Quando all'ara scorgemi / "Ah! when at the altar a chaste love from heaven singles me out"). Elizabeth expresses her uncertainty while at the same time, Talbot and the courtiers plead for Mary's life.(Cabaletta: Non posso risolvermi ancor, Ah! dal cielo discenda un raggio/ "I cannot yet decide. Ah! may some ray descend from heaven")
Just as Elizabeth inquires where Leicester is, he enters and Elizabeth tells him to inform the French ambassador that she will indeed marry François. He betrays no signs of being jealous, and the Queen assumes that she has a rival.
Alone with Leicester, Talbot reveals to him that he has just returned from Fotheringay and gives a letter and a miniature portrait of Mary. Joyously, Leicester recalls his love for Mary: (Aria: Leicester, then duet with Talbot: Ah! rimiro il bel sembiante/ "Ah! Again I see her beautiful face.") Talbot asks what he intends to do and Leicester swears to try to free her from her imprisonment: (Vuò liberalla! Vuò liberalla!/ "I want to set her free").
Talbot leaves and, as Leicester is about to do so, Elizabeth enters. Clearly knowing what has gone on between the two men, she questions him, asks about a letter from Mary, and then demands to see it. Reluctantly, Leicester hands it over, noting that Mary has asked for a meeting with her cousin and he pleads with the Queen to agree to do so. Also, upon her questioning, he confesses his love for Mary: (Duet: Leicester, then Elizabeth: Era d'amor l'immagine/ "She was the picture of love"). Told that Elizabeth can join a hunting party on the estates where Mary is imprisoned, she agrees to the meeting, albeit with revenge on her mind: (Cabaletta, duet: Elizabeth, then Leicester: sul crin la rivale la man mi stendea / "Over my head my rival stretched out her hand").
Scene 2: Fotheringay Castle (in many modern performances this scene is called Act 2, with the final act becoming Act 3)
Mary reflects on her youth in France with her companion, Anna: (Cavatina: Oh nube! che lieve per l'aria ti aggiri / "Oh cloud! that wanders light upon the breeze"). The sounds of a royal hunt are heard and, hearing the hunters cry out that the Queen is close by, Mary expresses her disgust: (Cabaletta: Nelle pace, nel mesto reposo / "In the peace of my sad seclusion, she would afflict me with a new terror"). To her surprise, Leicester approaches and warns Mary of Elizabeth's imminent arrival, counseling her to behave humbly towards the Queen, who is then despondent: (Duet: Da tutti abbandonata / "Forsaken by everyone.....my heart knows no hope"). But assuring Mary that he will do whatever is necessary to obtain her freedom, Leicester leaves her to meet Elizabeth. He then attempts to plead with the Queen for her forbearance.
When Mary is brought in by Talbot, Elizabeth reacts with hostility: (E' sempre la stessa, superba, orgogliosa / She is always the same, proud, overbearing") and, after each character collectively expresses his/her feelings, Mary approaches and kneels before the Queen: (Aria: Morta al mondo, e morta al trono / "Dead to the world, and dead to the throne.....I come to beg your pardon.") The confrontation soon becomes hostile. Elizabeth accuses Mary of having murdered her husband, Lord Darnley, as well as acts of treason and debauchery, all the while Leicester attemptng to calm both sides. Stung by Elizabeth's false accusations, Mary calls her the Figlia impura di Bolena / "Impure daughter of [Anne] Boleyn" and continues with the final insult: Profonato è il soglio inglese, vil bastarda, dal tuo piè! / "The English throne is sullied, vile bastard, by your foot". Elizabeth is horrified and demands that the guards take Mary away, declaring "The axe that awaits you will show my revenge". Mary is returned to captivity.
Scene 1: A room in Elisabetta's apartments
Cecil enters with the death warrant and attempts to persuade her to sign it. While she hesitates, Elizabeth contemplates the situation: (Aria: Quella vita, quella vita a me funesta / "That life, so threatening to me"...and pleads "Just heaven! Strengthen a soul all too ready to doubt"). Cecil urges her to sign it "so that every ruler will know how to pardon you for it" and, as she is about to do so, Leicester arrives. Seeing him, Elizabeth exclaims "you are hastening the execution" and signs the death warrant. Leicester pleads for mercy, Elizabeth rejects the plea, and Cecil urges her to remain firm: (Trio) Leicester: Ah! Deh! per pieta sospendi l'estromo culpo almeno / "Alas! For pity's sake spare the final blow at least"). The confrontation ends with Elizabeth holding firm despite Leicester's accusations of cruelty; she orders him to witness Mary's execution.
Scene 2: Maria's room
Mary contemplates her fate, and that of Leicester also: "I have brought misfortune to all". Talbot and Cecil enter and Cecil tells Mary that he holds her death warrant. After Cecil leaves the room, Talbot informs her that Leicester has been ordered to witness her execution. Beside herself with grief, Mary imagines that the ghost of Lord Darnley is in the room with her: (Duet: Mary, then Talbot: Quando il luce rosea, il giorno a me splendea/ "While with the light of dawn my life still sparkled" she laments as Talbot offers comfort.) However, Talbot then presses her about "one more sin": her "unity with"("uniti eri")Babington, to which she initially responds "Ah! be silent; it was a fatal error", but, when he insists, adds "Yes, dying my heart affirms it."
Scene 3: The courtyard at Fotheringay
People gather at the site of the execution, lamenting that a queen's death will bring shame upon England. Mary enters and says her farewells to the crowd, which includes Talbot, telling them she will be going to a better life. She calls them to a final prayer: (Mary, with Chorus: Deh! Tu di un emile preghiera/ "All!! May Thou hear the sound of our humble prayer") and, together, she and the crowd pray for God's mercy. When Cecil arrives to tell her that the time for her execution has come, he informs her that Elizabeth has granted her final wishes, including allowing Anna to accompany her to the scaffold. Then Mary offers a pardon to the queen: (Mary, Anna, Talbot, Cecil, chorus: Di un chor che more, reca il perdonono / "From a heart that is dying, may pardon be granted"). Leicester comes to bid her farewell. Both are distraught and he expresses outrage. Mary asks him to support her at the hour of her death and protests her innocence once again: (Aria: Ah! se un giorno da queste ritorne/ "Ah! Though one day from this prison your arm wanted to abduct me, now you lead me to my death"). She is then led to the scaffold.
(Maria, Elisabeta, Leicester, Talbot)
Opera House and Orchestra
London Philharmonic Orchestra with John Alldis Choir
|CD: Deutsche Grammophon
Cat: 289 465961-2
(Part of "3 Queens" box set)
Teatro Comunale di Bologna Orchestra and Chorus
Cat:00289 425 4102
|1982||Dame Janet Baker,
English National Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Cat: CHAN 3017(2)
|Fabrizio M. Carminati,
Orchestra Stabile di Bergamo "G.Donizetti"
Anna Caterina Antonacci,
Teatro alla Scala orchestra and chorus
|DVD: ArtHaus Musik
Cat: 101 361
CD: Premiere Opera Ltd,
Cat: CDNO 2836-2
- Ashbrook (1972), pp. 17 to 30.
- Ashbrook & Hibberd (2001), p. 235.
- Summers, p. 25
- Weatherson, Donizetti Society Newsletter #106
- Stephen Lawless, "An Italian Composer at the Court of Queen Elizabeth" on dallasopera.org. Note: Lawless directed Roberto Devereaux for the Dallas company in 2009
- Ashbrook (1972), p. 22
- After his death, the publication of his works was completed in 14 volumes in 1816. Another edition in 26 volumes was published at Florence between 1826 and 1827.
- Ashbrook (1982), p. 317
- Osborne 1994, pp. 229–234.
- Ashbrook (1972), p. 21
- Commons, Jeremy, "Maria Stuarda", Donizetti Society Journal, Number 3
- Gossett, p. 158
- Weatherson, "Queen of dissent" (2001): ".....In her time "legends surrounding Mary Queen of Scots (included) a "chain of seditious charcoal-burners" (who were) supposed to have been organised to carry out a secret struggle against the throne of Queen Elizabeth I." Note the many titles of the plays and operas of the time which include the word "carbonari" - charcoal burners - in their titles.
- Ashbrook (1972), p. 17
- Black, p. 33
- L'Indipendente, 22 April 1865, cited in Jeremy Commons, "Maria Stuarda", The Musical Times, Vol. 107, No. 1477. (March 1966), p. 207.
- Richard Eckstein (trans. Hugh Keith), "Failure, Prohibition and Triumph" in the booklet notes accompanying the La Scala DVD
- Ashbrook (1972), p. 19, quoting Donizetti's letter to a friend
- Ashbrook (1972), p. 19: he speculates that "someone, probably Donizetti himself, persuaded Malibran to use the original text, including the famous vil bastarda
- Commons, Jeremy, Patric Schmid, and Don White, "19th Century Performances of Maria Stuarda", The Donizetti Society Journal, Number 3.
- William Ashbrook. "Maria Stuarda" in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, edited by Stanley Sadie. Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online (accessed 26 December 2009) and also in the 1998 print edition, Vol. 3, pp. 213 - 214
- Siff, Opera News
- Ashley, The Guardian
- Donizetti Society website
- Operabase.com's report of performances since 1 January 2011 Retrieved 10 December 2012
- Mike Silverman, "Joyce DiDonato takes on opera's Scottish queen", The San Francisco Chronicle, 22 April 2012 on sfgate.com Retrieved 27 April 2012
- Rupert Christiansen, "Maria Stuarda, WNO/Wales Millennium Centre, review", The Telegraph, 14 September 2013 on telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 15 September 2013
- Saint Bris, Gonzague (2009). La Malibran (in French). Belfond. pp. 37 and 104. ISBN 978-2-7144-4542-1.
- Ashbrook (1982), pp. 235 - 277
- Ashbrook (1982), p. 256
- Ashbrook (1982), p. 278
- Synopsis based on BBC Radio 3. Donizetti's Maria Stuarda (performance by Opera North, broadcast 19 June 2010)
- The translation of Schiller's play reads: "Thou tell'st me nothing of the share thou hads't in Babington and Parry's bloody treason..."?
- Italian text and translation in the libretto of the Sills recording. However, Mary's involvement with Babington, a Catholic nobleman, in what became the Babington Plot, was by letters (some forged) between them. This was sufficient to confirm her complicity in the plot to kill Elizabeth in order to place herself on the throne of England)
- Source of recordings on operadis-opera-discography.org.uk
- Ashbrook, William (1972). "The Composer and The Opera", in booklet accompanying the 1971 recording of Maria Stuarda.
- Ashbrook, William (1982), Donizetti and His Operas. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23526-X.
- Ashbrook, William; Hibberd, Sarah (2001). "Gaetano Donizetti", pp. 224–247 in The New Penguin Opera Guide, edited by Amanda Holden. New York: Penguin Putnam. ISBN 0-14-029312-4.
- Ashley, Tim, "Mary, Queen of Scots", The Guardian, London, 14 March 2005. Retrieved 16 December 2012
- Black, John, Donizetti's Operas in Naples, 1822 to 1848, London: Donizetti Society, 1982
- Osborne, Charles (1994). The Bel Canto Operas of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini. Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press ISBN 0-931340-71-3.
- Siff, Ira, "I'll Never Stop Saying Maria", Opera News, November 2006. Retrieved 9 December 2012
- Summers, Patrick, "Odes to a Better World" (program notes for Spring 2012 performances of Maria Stuarda and Don Carlos), Opera Cues, Vol. 52, No: 04, Spring 2012 pub. by Houston Grand Opera
- Watts, John, (Ed.), The Donizetti Society Journal, Number 3, Donizetti Society (London), 1977
- Weatherson, Alexander, "Queen of dissent: Mary Stuart and the opera in her honour by Carlo Coccia", Donizetti Society (London), 2001
- Weatherson, Alexander, "The Stuarts and their kith and kin", Donizetti Society (London), Newsletter #106, February 2009. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
- Weinstock, Herbert (1963). Donizetti and the World of Opera in Italy, Paris, and Vienna in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century. New York: Pantheon Books. OCLC 601625.