The Metropolitan Opera's magnificent portrayal of Maria Stuarda not only awakens our curiosity, and the scholarly intrigue, about the Elizabethan era of the late 16th century. It also, by the superb performance of Joyce DiDonato in the role of Mary Stuart, creates a new reality in our perspective on that crucial time. In the final scene, Mary actually forgives the Queen for sentencing her to death, beseeching the Almighty not to let Elizabeth's terrible deed interfere with the success of the Queen, and thus the forward movement of the Empire. Now that's quite an act, for which Mary exceeds even her most revered predecessors among Christian martyrs. What Mary does goes beyond conventional heroism to stake out a new territory in dramatic, operatic art. Unbelievable!

The portrayal of Queen Elizabeth is also unique, although somewhat mystifying. Elizabeth -- the originator of the Elizabethan Compromise -- is cast by Donizetti as evil. That's something to ponder, in our own time.