Roberto Devereux


Donizetti, ever the romantic, may have fictionalized a liaison between Queen Elizabeth and her courtier, Robert Devereux, (second) Earl of Essex, but he took his theme to the thousandth power!

This opera, the third in a trilogy of the Tudor Queens (“Anna Bolena” and “Maria Stuarda” are the other two) that the Met has presented with the Great Sondra Radvanovsky is one of the most exciting operas we have been privileged to see/hear this, perhaps, even in many other seasons. And certainly all those who have already experienced this evening of glorious voices, commanding performances and realistic sets (no Las Vegas here!) will concur that this was a KNOCK OUT!

Matthew Polenzani and Mariusz Kwiecien, both veterans of the Met, who appeared in “The Pearl Fishers” as well, were strong and convincing in voice. But, it was Radvanovsky who ruled. Her actions sing just as well as her words as she flirts, cajoles, reminds Devereux of the ring she gave him, then bursts into fury at his lack of responsiveness. (He is in love with his friend Nottingham’s wife; Elizabeth’s favorite Lady in Waiting, Sarah.)

The dolorous story progresses as everyone finds out about everything, and Devereux is put to death. But it is the last scene that astounds even more. The Queen in her private rooms waits to hear the fate of her favorite; waiting for Sarah to return the ring. Then a cannon shot proclaims his demise. Deeply horrified by what she has done, she removes her red wig and collapses into despair; just an elderly lady who feels totally alone despite her Empire. The reality of this scene is searing as sadly she sinks to the floor and it’s over.

The curtain calls are particularly startling as Radvanovsky (sans red wig) with powdered hair and a huge smile stands bowing to the cheering crowds with her colleagues. Where on earth does this kind of energy come from and how much we salute both that and the incredible talent we have just witnessed on stage for the last three hours?

Barbara Tober




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Posted: 03/25/16 by Martine McKerrow
We attended the Met Premiere performance of Donizetti’s “Roberto Devereux” – and when we say Premiere, we mean literally the first performance ever of this, the third of Donizetti’s so-called Tudor trilogy. Generally, when operas have never or rarely been performed at the Met there is a reason, but in this case the reason escapes us. This opera features wonderful music, great singing, a nice production and an okay plot.

In short, the opera is a sort of love triangle between Queen Elizabeth, the eponymous Devereux, Earl of Essex, and Sarah, Duchess of Nottingham. Sarah and Devereux had been enamored of one another, but while he was in Ireland, she has been “forced” into a marriage with the Duke of Nottingham. At the same time Elizabeth has been enamored of Devereux. The plot revolves around whether Queen Elizabeth will pardon Devereux, whom she has loved, and who has been returned to England, accused of treason. Without revealing the plot, it does not end happily.

This opera features a superb cast, with Sandra Radvanovsky as the Queen, the superb Elīna Garanča as Sarah, an outstanding Mariusz Kwiecien as Nottingham and Matthew Polenzani in the title role. The Met chorus and orchestra delivered their usual outstanding performance. The audience (and we) loved the evening, giving the cast and the production crew a sustained standing ovation.

Our suggestion: Go and take in this spectacle.

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