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These two tragedies, written at the peak of Schiller's career as a dramatist, contain his most telling, and touching, portrayals of women. His heroines are propelled, by birth or a sense of divine mission, into exalted political positions, where their qualities as human beings, and particularly as women, are put to the severest tests, from which they emerge triumphant, but doomed. Schiller's breadth of sentiment, combined with his consummate stagecraft, and Shakespearean mastery of verse and bility of language, ensure his position as Germany's greatest dramatist, and these translations, prepared for, and performed by Glasgow's famous Citizens Company, should go far to ensure his long overdue acceptance in Britain as a master of the European Theatre.
Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805) ranks as one of the greatest figures in European drama and literature. That Verdi based four of his operas on Schiller's plays is not surprising (I masnadieri, Giovanna d'Arco, Luisa Miller, Don Carlos). Both men were deeply preoccupied with the battle for political freedon, projecting the moral victory of the doomed individual over the power of the immutable State as potent historical drama. Schiller's nobility of theatrical concept perfectly suited the energy and majesty of Verdi's scores. Yet in the English-speaking world Schiller's works are comparatively little known to theatregoers. The dedication of the renowned Glasgow-based Citizens' Company and the inspired decision to present the plays alongside Verdi's operas at the Edinburgh International Festival have gone a long way to remedy this neglect. The fifth play included in this edition was the source fro the opera by Donizetti (Maria Stuarda). Also translated for the Citizens' Company by Robert David MacDonald, Schiller's 'Mary Stuart' is acknowldged masterpiece. Robert David MacDonald (1929 - 2004) was born in Elgin, Scotland. After originally training as a musician, he worked as a Director, Playwright and Translator. As an Assistant Director, he worked at both the Glyndebourne Opera Festival and for the Royal Opera House. In 1971, he became Co-Artistic Director of the Glasgow Citizens Theatre, where he directed fifty plays and wrote fifteen for the venue before his retirement in 2003. The plays that he wrote for the Glasgow Citz include The De Sade Show (1975), Chinchilla (1977), Summit Conference (1978), also seen in the West End with Glenda Jackson and Gary Oldman, A Waste of Time (1980), Don Juan (1980), Webster (1983), Britannicus (2002) and Cheri (2003). As a translator, MacDonald translated over seventy different plays and opera from over ten different languages including The Threepenny Opera, Tamerlano, Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail, The Marriage of Figaro, Orpheus and The Human Voice, Conversation at Night, Shadow of Angels, The Balcony, The Government Inspector, Tasso, Faust I and II, Ibsen's Brand and Hedda Gabler, Lermontov's Maskerade, Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba, Moliere's School for Wives and Don Juan, Pirandello's Enrico Four, Racine's Phedre, Schiller's Mary Stuart, The Maid of Orleans and Don Carlos, Chekhov's The Seagull, Verne's Around the World In Eighty Days, Wedekind's Lulu and Goethe's Clavigo. His adaptation of War and Peace ran for two seasons on Broadway and received an Emmy award when shown on U.S television. The Finborough Theatre has previously presented Robert David MacDonald's versions of Rolf Hochhuth's Soldiers (2004) and The Representative (2006)