Review: WNO – Roberto Devereux @ WMC
With Anna Bolena and Maria Stuarda under our belts, we reach the third and final Donizetti opera, Roberto Devereux.
With the contrasting opinions surrounding these productions, could this final work make it worth the while? It just about did this. I think we have seen enough black staging and costumes here to last for years of opera going. I doubt I will ever see such dimly lit productions again. No booing tonight either, which was a relief.
Robert, Earl of Essex is tried for treason. He loved Queen Elisabeth, but can she save him? Will she save him? That’s basically the plot in a nutshell. Oh, and she does not, as history would tell it. A hilarious moment is at the very end when the Queen abdicates and gives the throne to James. Of course, this never happened. Funny when reading the synopsis, yet quite tragic when it is laid out in front of you.
Playing the Queen was the impeccable and highly driven Alexandra Deshorties, who on arrival looked more like Vivian Westwood, mauled by dogs and been stuck in a thunderstorm. The gorgeous and resounding Leonardo Capalbo as Essex got to wear a light brown biker jacket, that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a leather bar. Leah-Marian Jones as Sara made for a sympathetic role and in need of much compassion.
A shocking new feature was the crazy, metallic spider that had been created for the Queen to flounder around in after the Earl, as the female chorus moved the legs around. It was an impressive sight and totally came out of nowhere. The giant insect seen for viewing by the chorus was the parallel to this, with a dead mouse (which symbolises the Earl) thrown in to feed it in the opening scenes. Certainly, the best bit of staging to come out of all the three operas was the metal spider. Yet, I will still say Maria Staruda was my personal favourite.
I wouldn’t say this has been the most successful of seasons for a few reasons. After my great praise for Lulu and Lohengrin, how could I have taken these any other way?
But we now reach the end of WNOs Tudor opera season. One concert at Saint David’s Hall of Tudor related music finally chops the season to its end in November. Then crown is passed over to next springs take on the Fallen Women.
I wait with much excitement and enthusamin.