Roberto Devereux

Melbourne Opera Roberto Devereux Helena DixFollowing the company’s acclaimed productions of Maria Stuarda in 2015 and Anna Bolena in 2016, Melbourne Opera is finishing its powerful 2017 season with the final instalment of Donizetti’s Tudor trilogy, Roberto Devereux at The Athenaeum Theatre this November.

Though the title may suggest otherwise, make no mistake – this bel canto masterpiece is a vehicle for a star Soprano who has the notes. The work follows the twilight years of the reign of Elizabeth I, the first and last unmarried woman to sit on the throne of England, sparking a sexual revolution in the way the court was run.

The incredibly talented Suzanne Chaundy recently directed Lohengrin at the Regent Theatre, with the Melbourne Opera’s biggest company to date and it’s most international cast. Roberto Devereux marks her completion of a three-year study on Donizetti’s trilogy of dramatic masterpieces. She sees Roberto Devereux as a close study of how public life effects and dominates the emotional life of powerful people.

“This opera opens the floodgates for the devastating forces of jealousy and pride to take their toll,” says Chaundy. “It is about the “end of days” for our chief protagonists. Passion, will and power collide when personalities are too closely matched.”

Elizabeth I is regarded as one of the greatest ever roles written for a highly accomplished diva as the role has huge dramatic and vocal challenges. The dramatic final scene in which the ageing Queen, having ordered the execution of Roberto (the man she loves), confronts her mortality is a pinnacle of the bel canto repertoire and never fails to move an audience.

Melbourne Opera is fortunate to have secured distinguished Australian soprano Helena Dix, who will perform Elizabeth I in between engagements at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. Helena scored a huge personal and critical success as Elsa in Melbourne Opera’s widely acclaimed production of Lohengrin earlier this year.

This work, which illuminates of one of history’s most powerful women, will be brought to life by the same celebrated all-female creative team from Maria Stuarda and Anna Bolena. This includes lauded set designer Christina Logan-Bell. Melbourne Opera Director Greg Hocking will be joined by Raymond Lawrence to share the conducting of the distinguished cast and highly praised Melbourne Opera chorus and orchestra.

Melbourne Opera has assembled an illustrious cast of singers for the Australian premiere of this dramatic and tragic 19th Century opera, which is loosely based on the life of Roberto Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, who was an influential member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I and possibly the only man whose ambition she failed to convert to serve her own glory.

Following his Green Room Award nominated performance in Maria Stuarda, Henry Choo will return to perform the title role, Elizabeth’s last great love. Baritone Phillip Calcagno will perform the role of Devereux’s best friend, The Duke of Nottingham; while the exceptional soprano Danielle Calder will perform the role of Sara, The Duchess of Nottingham who although married to the Duke is caught in a secret love affair with Devereux.

The cast also includes international bass Eddie Muliaumaseali’I in the role of Sir Walter Raleigh, following praised performances as Hermann in Tannhäuser and Heinrich in Lohengrin and Jason Wasley as Lord Cecil.

Roberto Devereux
The Athenaeum Theatre, Collins Street, Melbourne
Performances: 11, 14, 16 & 18 November 2017

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Image: Helena Dix to star as Elizabeth I in Roberto Devereux (supplied)