Friday, April 22, 2016

Roberto Devereux

Three Met HD operas this month! Just in case I find myself with nothing to do!

Last Saturday's was Donizetti's Roberto Devereux, ending the Tudor trilogy (Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda, Roberto Devereux).

In this opera, Elizabeth I is getting older, she has lost her striking looks (apparently her face was scarred by smallpox and she had lost half her hair), and she feels her grasp on her power slipping. The story of her love for Robert Devereux is not necessarily historically proven, but it works in the context of the opera.

This is the third of Sir David McVicar's productions - visually, it's probably the one that worked the best for me. It's set as a play within a play, with a jacobean audience standing to the left and right of the stage, within touching distance of the singers, an audience that chats during the performance, claps after every aria, and even disappears when the main performer is not on the stage.

And the costumes were amazing - you could almost feel the weight of them! Elizabeth of course is wearing the more elaborate dresses of all - all heavy brocades, pearls and those crazy starched elizabethan collars. OK, they are not called elizabethan collars apparently! That's the name used for dog lampshades, i.e. the collars dog have to wear after an operation to stop them from pulling their stitches. The proper name for the piece of clothing worn around the neck that you associate with Elizabeth I is a ruff.

(I got this picture from Wikipedia - it looks like there is a dispute about the copyright of this photograph of a painting from the National Gallery)

And here is a little taste of it - all very passionate - Sondra Radvanovsky, the soprano who plays Elizabeth said it's a hard role because she has to be angry for the full duration of the opera!

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