Maria Stuarda is a tragedia lirica, or tragic opera, by Gaetano Donizetti. It premiered on December 30, 1835 at La Scala, Milan. Giuseppe Bardari wrote the Italian libretto after Friedrich von Schiller's play Maria Stuart (1800).
The subject is based on the lives of Mary, Queen of Scots (Mary Stuart) and her cousin Queen Elizabeth. The king banned performances of the opera, and Donizetti responded by pulling out large chunks of the score for use in a different work, Buondelmonte. The soprano Maria Malibran forced a premiere at La Scala and ignored the censoring revisions, but Milan then enforced the ban. Realizing the impossibility of a run in Italy, a London premiere was planned, but Malibran's death (aged 28) in 1836 cancelled the project. Except for several productions of the Buondelmonte version, the work was neglected until 1958 when a production in Bergamo, Donizetti's hometown, brought the original work into popularity. The premiere in England was held not long after, on March 1, 1966.
When forced to simplify part of the music for the original Elisabetta, Donizetti scribbled on the margin "But it's ugly!", and further on refused a change, writing "Do it, and may you live for a hundred years!"