Still reeling from our delightful time in England, we were fortunate to be able to attend the Met’s HD performance of Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux, featuring the incomparable soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, who this season sings all three Donizetti’s Tudor queen operas.
In the Roberto Devereux video clip below, Radvanovsky plays Elizabeth I.
The story itself is quite simple – at least by operatic standards. Elizabeth I must determine whether Roberto Devereux, the Earl of Essex to whom the Queen is romantically “involved,” has committed treason. The charges of treason are related to his poor military leadership in Ireland. For Elizabeth, the charge of “treason” is more personal: she suspects Devereux loves another.
That “other” is Sarah, the wife of Devereux’s good friend, the Duke of Nottingham. Sarah is played by the lovely mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča, while Matthew Polenzani is Devereux and baritone Mariusz Kwiecien in the Duke. These are opera performers at the top of their game and this HD performance was little short of perfection.
As most opera stories go, Elizabeth reluctantly sentences Devereux to death because he secretly loves another and then is devastated when he is executed, since his “get out of jail card” arrived too late.
While Radvanovsky’s voice is simply magnificent, her stage performance was compelling. Queen Elizabeth I clearly had hip problems and, perhaps, palsy. Radvanovsky brilliantly captures these old-age “issues” and I was as shocked as everyone else in the audience to see the old desperate Elizabeth after she removed her wig.
Attending an HD opera performance is far better than most of the dribble you see on the screens these days, but it still pales in comparison to the pageantry of attending a live performance at the Met.
Nevertheless, I was quite annoyed when the theater manager decided to turn on the overhead lights during the excellent interviews with the cast between acts. The manager’s patronizing explanation: “We don’t want any old people to stumble on their way to the restrooms.”
Even though we were the youngest people in the audience, such condescending behavior would not be tolerated during a screening of Star Wars. Please!!