Schiller’s Maria Stuart in Bad Vilbel

Donizetti’s music kept going on in my head during some of the scenes — but only in my head, because this time I wasn’t watching his fabulous Italian opera Maria Stuarda, but rather the classic German play it was based on, Maria Stuart by Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805).

Seating for the Castle Festival in Bad Vilbel

This is a “what if” drama. Schiller asked himself what would have happened if Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587) had ever met face to face with her cousin Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603).

This never happened in real life, but in Schiller’s play and in Donizetti’s opera they do meet, and after this confrontation Elizabeth finally gives in to her advisors and signs Mary’s death warrant.

Technicians and seating at the Castle Festival in Bad Vilbel

The seats down front, closest to the stage — to the left in the photo — are the second cheapest (category D), because they are the only ones that don’t have a roof over them. If the weather seems uncertain, a lady comes around and distributes free plastic raincoats to everyone sitting in that section.

The night I was in Bad Vilbel to see Schiller’s Maria Stuart it did indeed start drizzling a couple times, but since the stage and most of the bleachers are roofed over, they just kept on playing. They say they will perform in “almost any weather” but I don’t know where they draw the line.

I also used to cycle in almost any weather, but on this particular evening the rain had stopped by the time the play was over and it was time for me to cycle back home along the banks of the Nidda.

Applause after Schiller’s Maria Stuart at the Castle Festival in Bad Vilbel

Maria Stuart was the sixth of Schiller’s ten plays. He finished it in the year 1800, when he was forty-one years old, five years before his death.

Poster advertising Schiller’s Maria Stuart in Bad Vilbel

Nearly all of Schiller’s plays have been made into operas, by composers such as Gioachino Rossini (Guillaume Tell), Gaetano Donizetti (Maria Stuarda) and Giuseppe Verdi (Giovanna d’Arco, I masnadieri, Luisa Miller and Don Carlos).

My photos in this post are from 2005. I revised the text in 2023.

See more posts on Bad Vilbel, Germany.
For more on Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, see my posts
Operas in Wiesbaden and Operas in Zürich.

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