Roberto Devereux (concert version)

Gaetano Donizetti (1797 – 1848) / at the Philharmonie

Tragedia lirica in three acts; Libretto by Salvatore Cammarano, based on Jacques-François Ancelot‘s tragedy „Elisabeth d'Angleterre“;First performance on 28th October, 1837 in Naples; Premiered at the Berlin Philharmonie am 5th November, 2014

In Italian language with German surtitles





That things do not always run smoothly in the world’s royal houses is no figment of the yellow press. History tells us this, poets and tragedians knew it and the great composers of Italian bel canto happily used high-level intrigues as material for their high-flown dramas. Gaetano Donizetti is perhaps the finest exponent in this regard, composing a string of dramas based on royalty – or, more precisely, on queens. His works centred on heroines such as Mary Stuart [MARIA STUARDA], Anne Boleyn, one of Henry VIII’s doomed wives [ANNA BOLENA], or Queen Elizabeth I of England [ROBERTO DEVEREUX]. Despite the power vested in them, these are all lonely, suffering women whose yearning for love is destined to be thwarted by the rigid traditions of court and the strictures imposed by reason of state. Moreover, they are all – particularly Elizabeth, who had her lover Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, executed out of jealousy – strong characters whose less dainty sides not only make them more interesting than their passive sisters in adversity but also provide the composer with ample dramatic material.

ROBERTO DEVEREUX recounts the tragedy of a ruler whose love gives way to desperate hatred. In the end, unable to reverse her decision to have her unfaithful lover executed, Elizabeth abdicates. The grand final scene featuring the Queen ranks with the madness aria sung by Lucia di Lammermoor as one of Donizetti’s finest creations and is an opportunity for the soprano to show what she is capable of. This is a right royal role for Edita Gruberová, and the supreme prima donna of bel canto triumphs in this signature role from the first note to the last. Celso Albelo sings the hapless Earl of Essex and Veronica Simeoni the Queen’s young rival for his affections.