Roberto Devereux

Melbourne Opera Roberto Devereux - photo by Robin HallsMelbourne Opera’s production of Roberto Devereux is a masterpiece. Their superb storytelling is made all the more exceptional through the deformation and violation of what you might consider traditional operatic singing.

We see this particularly in Helena Dix’s thrilling performance as Elizabeth I. At certain moments, Helena sings to the end of a lyric, before either dropping out of an operatic delivery to something forceful but still musical, or dispensing with musical altogether to deliver a brutal spoken fragment. It all helped to lift what might seem a polite historical reimagining off the page and transform the show into something visceral and engaging.

To be sure, the geometric backdrop looked like they ran out of time to actually paint it and instead stapled rose-looking paper plates in the middle hoping no one would notice. However, the quality of the performances easily drew the audience’s attention and kept us engaged.

Henry Choo was splendid as the titular character and Elizabeth’s ex-flame, Roberto Devereux. Whether optimistic or vitriolic, Phillip Calcagno as Roberto’s friend, the Lord Duke of Nottingham, showed the strength of his character’s convictions well.

Danielle Calder gave an amazing performance as Nottingham’s wife, Sara, who was also Roberto’s lover and the closest thing Elizabeth had to a friend. Guilt and love make for a difficult combination and Danielle portrayed a character torn between duty and heart in an incredible fashion.

Director, Suzanne Chaundy, has made beautiful moments and images throughout the piece (e.g. the opening of Act 2 as the men sit and stand around like a Renaissance painting), but surely none so stunning as Sara crying for her lost love as the curtain falls. This was a wonderful production that plays for only three more performances. Don’t miss out!

Roberto Devereux
The Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins Street, Melbourne
Performance: Saturday 11 November 2017 – 7.30pm
Season continues to 18 November 2017

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Melbourne Opera’s production of Roberto Devereux – photo by Robin Halls

Review: David Collins