The Tennessee Premiere of
Donizetti’s dynamic 1835 masterpiece

Performed in Italian with projected English translations.

Seats available for Friday, April 28, 2017 at 7:30 pm

Seats available for Sunday, April 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm

Performed at the Magnificent Tennessee Theatre

Opera preview hosted by Maestro Salesky begins 45 minutes prior to each performance


Elizabeth I, fearing her rival in love and politics, has imprisoned Mary Queen of Scots for 18 years. What happens when Elizabeth and her cousin, Mary Stuart, finally meet face to face? A riveting, explosive showdown featuring unspeakable insults and violent, vocal fireworks! Fighting for her crown and survival, Elizabeth sends Mary to the executioner’s scaffold.

Meet the Director


Brian Deedrick (Stage Director)

Knoxville Opera is delighted to welcome back international stage director BRIAN DEEDRICK following his very successful Knoxville productions of Die Fledermaus, The Elixir of Love, H.M.S. Pinafore, Mefistofele, and our first two productions this season, The Pirates of Penzance, and La Bohème. As a freelance opera and theatre director, his work takes him all over Canada and the United States, with occasional forays as far afield as Casalmaggiore, Italy and Tel Aviv. During his years as Artistic Director of Edmonton Opera, some of his favorite productions there included Fidelio, Otello, Julius Caesar, Falstaff, Weill in Weimar, The Emperor of Atlantis, The Abduction from the Seraglio, and South Pacific. Selected freelance opera credits have included Turandot and Aïda for Fort Worth Opera, Don Giovanni for Austin Lyric Opera, Otello and La Bohème for L’Opéra de Québec, Eugene Onegin and Tosca for Opera Carolina, The Flying Dutchman for Baltimore Opera, L’Elisir d’amore and The Pearl Fishers for Arizona Opera and The Merry Widow and Don Pasquale in Honolulu. Mr. Deedrick’s most recent projects have included La Bohème in Winnipeg, Manitoba and The Gondoliers in Edmonton.  When not directing, the Canadian native works as a city tour guide in Berlin, Germany!

Meet the Cast


Rochelle Bard (Mary Queen of Scots)

Sponsored thanks to the generosity of Dr. Sharon Lord

Birthplace: Worcester, Massachusetts
Foreign Opera Company: Opera Lirica (Orvieto)
Foreign Festivals: Seoul International Music Festival, Toulouse International Festival
U.S. Opera Companies: Knoxville Opera (Norma, Il Trovatore), Utah Festival Opera, Baltimore Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Shreveport Opera, Sacramento Opera, Opera Tampa, Opera San José, Opera Idaho, Ash Lawn Opera, Opera Providence, Maine Grand Opera, Opera Theatre of Connecticut, Opera Theatre of Middlebury (VT), MidAtlantic Opera (NJ), Cape Cod Opera, St. Petersburg Opera (FL), Longwood Opera (MA), New England Light Opera (MA), West Bay Opera (Palo Alto), Sugar Creek Opera (IL)
U.S. Orchestras and Festivals: Opera Orchestra of New York, Hartford Symphony, Santa Cruz Symphony, Wilmington Symphony, MidAmerica Productions (NY), Cambridge Symphony (MA), Pioneer Valley Symphony (MA), Cadenza Orchestra (CA), Farmington Valley Chorale (CT), North Shore Chorus and Orchestra (MA); Tanglewood Festival, Chautauqua Institute (NY), Music by the Lake (WI)


Catherine Daniel (Queen Elizabeth I)

Sponsored thanks to the generosity of Margaret Goodman

Birthplace: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Foreign Opera Companies: Opéra de Montréal, Edmonton Opera, Manitoba Opera, Opera Studio Nederland, Porgy and Bess tour (Europe)
Foreign Orchestras: Orchestre Métropolitain (Montréal), Magogo Kamerorkest (Netherlands), Orchestre Symphonique de Sherbrooke (Québec)


David Guzman (Leicester)

Sponsored thanks to the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. G. Mark Cramolini

Birthplace: Ibagué, Colombia
Foreign Opera Company: Théâtre du Chatelet (Paris)
Foreign Orchestra: Orquesta Filarmonica de Bogotá
U.S. Opera Companies: Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Arizona Opera, Opera Tampa, Lyric Opera of San Diego, Lake George Opera (NY), Opera in the Heights (Texas), Long Island Opera, Bronx Opera, Salt Marsh Opera, Stony Brook Opera
U.S. Orchestras and Festivals: New York Metamorphoses Orchestra, Rapides Symphony; North Shore Opera Festival

Darren Stokes (Talbot)

Birthplace: Suffolk, Virginia
Foreign Opera Companies: City Opera (Switzerland), Palacio de Bellas Artes (Mexico City), Porgy and Bess tour (Germany)
Foreign Orchestra: Munich Philharmonic
U.S. Opera Companies: San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera, Seattle Opera, Dallas Opera, Portland Opera, Virginia Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Boston Lyric Opera, New York City Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Memphis, Sarasota Opera, Indianapolis Opera, San Antonio Opera, Opera Saratoga, Eugene Opera, Chicago Opera Theatre, Toledo Opera, Opera North, Amarillo Opera, Opera Piccola
U.S. Orchestras and Festivals: Cleveland Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Nashville Symphony, Virginia Symphony, Richmond Symphony, Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, Ravinia Festival, Cincinnati May Festival, Grant Park Music Festival (Chicago)

Scott Bearden (Cecil)

Sponsored thanks to the generosity of Mark and Catherine Hill

Birthplace: Flint, Michigan
Foreign Opera Company: International Vocal Arts Institute (Tel Aviv)
U.S. Opera Companies: Knoxville Opera (Pagliacci, Otello, La Fanciulla del West, Hansel and Gretel, Tosca), San Francisco Opera, Opera Boston, Opera New Jersey, Toledo Opera, Mississippi Opera, Opera Theater of Connecticut, Opera Memphis, Opera San Jose, Opera Grand Rapids, Eugene Opera, Cedar Rapids Opera, West Bay Opera, Mercury Opera, Rockland (NY), California Festival Opera
U.S. Orchestras and Festivals: Monterey Symphony, Oakland East Bay Symphony, Midland Symphony, Symphony Silicon Valley, Tanglewood Music Festival, Caramoor Music Festival, Sanibel Music Festival, Mendocino Music Festival

Linda Barnett (Anna)

Birthplace: Knoxville, TN
U.S. Opera Companies: Knoxville Opera (Norma), Merola Opera (San Francisco), University of Tennessee Opera Theatre

Plot Synopsis

Act 1; Sc. 1: Westminster Palace, London; 1577.

Members of the Court gather after a tournament to honor the French ambassador who has brought a marriage proposal to Queen Elizabeth of England from François, the Dauphin of France. She considers the proposal, one which would create a strategic alliance with France, but she is reluctant to give up her freedom. Talbot, the Earl of Shrewsbury, and the courtiers plead for the life of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots (and Elizabeth’s cousin), who Elizabeth has imprisoned due to alleged plots against the Queen of England. Believing the accusations of Lord High Treasurer Cecil, she declines to pardon Mary. Elizabeth tells Robert, Earl of Leicester (whom she has loved for years), to inform the French ambassador that she will marry François. When he betrays no signs of jealousy, Elizabeth assumes that she has a rival for his affections. Alone with Leicester, Talbot reveals that he has just returned from Fotheringhay Castle with a letter and portrait from his beloved Mary. Leicester swears to free her from prison. As Leicester is about to leave he encounters Elizabeth who clearly knows what has gone on between the two men. When she demands to see Mary’s letter Leicester hands it over, noting that Mary has asked for a meeting with her. He also confesses his love for Mary. When told that she can join a hunting party on the estate where Mary is imprisoned, Elizabeth agrees to the meeting, with revenge on her mind.

Act 1; Sc. 2: Fotheringhay Castle, Northamptonshire, England.

Mary, accompanied by her friend Anna, reflects on her youth in France. The sounds of a royal hunt, indicating the presence of the Queen, trigger Mary to express her disgust with Elizabeth. To Mary’s surprise, Leicester enters and warns her of the Queen’s arrival, counseling her to behave humbly. He pledges to do whatever is necessary to obtain her freedom. After Mary departs Elizabeth enters and Leicester pleads with her to free Mary. When Mary is brought in by Talbot, Elizabeth reacts with hostility. Mary kneels before the Queen, begging for her pardon. The confrontation becomes heated and Elizabeth accuses Mary of having murdered her husband, as well as acts of treason and debauchery. Stung by Elizabeth’s accusations, Mary calls her the “impure daughter of [Anne] Boleyn” and proclaims that the English throne has been sullied by the “vile bastard” Elizabeth. The horrified Queen tells the guards to take Mary away.

Act 2; Sc. 1: Westminster Palace; February 1, 1587. Ten years later.

Cecil enters with Mary’s death warrant. Elizabeth, despite her doubts, signs it when Leicester arrives. Cecil urges her to remain firm. Leicester pleads for mercy but Elizabeth rejects his plea and orders him to witness Mary’s execution.
Act 2; Sc. 2: Mary’s room in Fotheringhay Castle; February 7, 1587.
As Mary contemplates her fate, Talbot and Cecil enter to present her death warrant. After Cecil departs, Mary rambles on about her part in the murder of her husband, Henry Stuart, and the Babington Plot to assassinate Elizabeth. In the end, she proclaims her innocence.

Act 2; Sc. 3: Execution chamber in Fotheringhay; February 8, 1587.

Mary, accompanied by Talbot, enters and asks the attendees to pray for God’s mercy. Cecil calls for her execution and Mary offers a “pardon” to Elizabeth. Leicester bids her farewell and expresses his outrage. For the last time Mary claims her innocence of the charges, asks Leicester to support her in her final moments, and is led to the executioner’s block.