World premiere: Teatro alla Scala, Milan, 1835. Met premiere: December 31, 2012. Maria Stuarda is a searingly dramatic setting of Friedrich Schiller’s play about Mary, Queen of Scots, and her political and personal rivalry with Queen Elizabeth I of England. While based relatively closely on historical characters and events, the opera’s central scene is fictional: the highly emotional meeting of the queens that concludes the first act (originally invented by Schiller) never took place. It’s a dramatic device that brilliantly highlights the two women’s contrasting characters.