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Roberto Devereux

Published Thursday 3 October 2013 at 10:33 by George Hall

With two out of the three works already in the repertoire, Welsh National Opera opens the third instalment of its Tudor trilogy. Alessandro Talevi directs - as in Anna Bolena, the opening segment - while Madeleine Boyd returns as designer.

A scene from Roberto Devereux

A scene from Roberto Devereux Photo: Robert Workman

The final production in the sequence proves the best, though Boyd’s designs are once again the least appealing thing in the show. Even so, it looks more handsome than its predecessors - though the giant metal spider Queen Elizabeth I mounts at one point is bizarre. Bar some artificial chorus movement and a pointless use of the revolve, Talevi’s direction, too, is considerably sharper and more purposeful.

But what makes this operatic account of the tragic ending of the relationship between Elizabeth and her unfaithful courtier Essex memorable are the vocal and musical performances. Canadian soprano Alexandra Deshorties excels as the English queen, rising with emotional grandeur and technical aplomb to an unforgettably intense final scene. As her fickle but doomed lover, Leonardo Capalbo sounds and looks like a romantic tenor dream. Leah-Marian Jones shows her mettle in a major role as Essex’s guilty lover Sara, Duchess of Nottingham, while David Kempster is nothing short of magnificent as her husband the Duke, whose discovery of his wife’s affair turns Essex’s sole remaining friend into his deadly enemy. Once again showing his credentials in Italian opera, conductor Daniele Rustioni maintains musical excitement in the pit. If you can catch just one of the three shows as they tour, this is the one to go for.

Production information

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, October 2-6, then touring until November 29

Gaetano Donizetti
Alessandro Talevi
Daniele Rustioni
Welsh National Opera
Cast includes:
Alexandra Deshorties, Leah-Marian Jones, Leonardo Capalbo, David Kempster, Geraint Dodd, William Robert Allenby
Running time:
2hrs 45mins

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

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Run sheet

King's Head, Islington London
January 24-February 15 2014