The beautiful Mary Stuart, better known as Mary, Queen of Scots, is suspected of plotting against Elizabeth I of England, and her own fate is in the hands of the English queen.
Will Elizabeth get rid of her rival, or will cousinly love prevail? The two women are, after all, both descendants of England's Henry VII.
History buffs know how the tragic tale ends. And opera buffs know composer Gaetano Donizetti has a knack for presenting the stories of the Tudor queens and their contemporaries in intriguing, dramatic fashion.
If you visit Movies 14 in downtown Wilkes-Barre or Cinemark in Moosic on Saturday, you can watch mezzo-soprano Joyce Di Donato singing the virtuosic title role in a Metropolitan Opera production of Donizetti's Maria Stuarda.
Local opera aficionados expect it will be quite a treat.
I have seen (Di Donato, in person) in a recital in California, David Bravman of Kingston said. She's an extraordinary singer at the height of her career right now.
Her voice is beautiful, confirmed Jeannette Garber of Wilkes-Barre. They have many wonderful singers at the Met, and they've very attractive people nowadays, as opposed to people in the olden days who were kind of buxom.
Both Garber and Bravman have seen operas in person and say it's impossible to match the excitement of that experience. Still, they hasten to add, there are special advantages to watching and listening to an opera as it appears on the screen of a cinema.
At the movies, what's very nice is you see a lot of things during intermission, said Garber, a retired violist from the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic. They interview the conductor and the singers and sometimes the wardrobe woman, all the people who have helped put the opera together.
Bravman, who has seen many operas from the vantage point of seat A111, a front-row position so close he could see the scores in the orchestra pit, said the movie cameras can show you even more.
The cameras get close-ups of the singers, he said, and the intermission takes you backstage to see sets being changed.
Each way of seeing the opera has its virtues, Bravman continued, but it's convenient and less expensive to go to the movies. A premium opera seat in New York City might cost $400, he said. At Cinemark and Movies 14, the prices are more in the $16 to $24 range.
I would never want to give up the opportunity to go to the opera house. There is an immediacy you can't duplicate, he said. But (the movies) cost much less, you don't have to get dressed up, and you don't have to go to New York City and park there.
It makes opera more accessible to people all over the country, he said. If you live in Peoria, Ill., or Fargo, N.D., it's not that easy to drive to New York.
What: ‘Maria Stuarda,' the second opera in Donizetti's Tudor trilogy, screening from Metropolitan Opera
Starring: Mezzo-soprano Joyce Di Donato
When: 12:55 p.m. Saturday
Where: Movies 14, 24 E. Northampton St., Wilkes-Barre, and Cinemark 20, 40 Glenmaura National Blvd., Moosic
More info: 825-4444 or 961-5943 or fathomevents.com