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The Sunday Opera - Thea Musgrave's "Mary, Queen of Scots"

In a small way, we’re celebrating Women’s History Month on this week’s Sunday Opera (3/12 3:00 p.m.) with a three-act work by Scottish American composer Thea Musgrave followed by some music of Musgrave along with the works of four other woman composers.

Musgrave’s Opera is 1977 opera “Mary, Queen of Scots” which had its premier at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh. The recording to which we’ll be listening comes from the Virginia Opera and is conducted by Musgrave’s husband, Peter Mark.

The libretto of the opera, which was written by Musgrave based on an unpublished play by Peruvian author Amalia Elguera, looks at the turmoil faced by Mary beginning with her return to Scotland from France in 1561 until she was forced to flee to England in 1568.

In this live recording, Mary is voiced by Ashley Putnam. The men who connive to control her life are Jake Gardiner as James Steward, Earl of Moray, Jon Garrison as Henry, Lord Darnley (whom she would marry), Barry Busse as James Hepburn the Earl of Bothwell, and the treacherous Lords Gordon, Beaton, Morton, and Ruthven are Francesco Sorianello, Carlos Serrano, Robert Randolph, and Pietro Pozzo.

The four “Marys” who are both friends and Ladies in Waiting are Gloria Capone, Nancy Boling, Ann Scholten, and Pamela Scott as Mary Seton, Mary Beaton, Mary Livingstone, and Mary Fleming.

Peter Mark conducts the Virginia Opera (of which he was founder and artistic director) Orchestra and Chorus.

We’ll begin our “apres opera” with a 1988 work by Musgrave that was commissioned by the Academy of Saint Martin’s in the Fields. It’s her version of The Four Seasons. In our final hour together, we’ll hear works from contemporary composers American Jennifer Higdon and her jazzy Soprano Saxophone Concerto and Milanese composer Elisabetta Brusa's interesting Fanfare as well as a spirited piece by a forgotten early 20th century American composer named Dana Suesse, and a charming sinfonia by an 18th century Viennese composer, Marianne Martines.

It’s an afternoon of varied styles of wonderful music all by women composers this week, and we hope you’ll tune in for it.

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.
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