DiDonato a luminous Mary Stuart at Met

NEW YORK – The Metropolitan Opera may have pretty much turned opening night over to the glamorous Anna Netrebko, but New Year’s Eve belongs to a very different diva – Joyce DiDonato.

Last year the Kansas-born mezzo-soprano headlined a starry lineup in the baroque pastiche “The Enchanted Island.” On Monday night she brought a gala audience to its feet with a luminous performance in the title role of Donizetti’s “Maria Stuarda.”

Never before performed at the Met, this second opera in the composer’s so-called “Three Queens” trilogy portrays the lethal conflict between Mary, deposed queen of Scotland, and Queen Elizabeth I of England.

From the moment she makes her entrance in the second scene, singing of her joy in strolling outside her prison in Fotheringay Castle, DiDonato rivets attention.