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Mark Mandel
Opera News, December 2013

MEYERBEER, G.: Robert le diable (Royal Opera House, 2012) (NTSC) OA1106D
MEYERBEER, G.: Robert le diable (Royal Opera House, 2012) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7121D

…the singers excel. Tenor Bryan Hymel…as Robert, is a pillar of strength in a role studded with high notes…Marina Poplavskaya…surmounts a flawed technique with generous tone, sincerity and intensity as selfless Alice. Patrizia Ciofi…as Isabelle…uses her slender voice skillfully…bass-baritone John Relyea is a vocally satisfying Bertram who believably embodies the role…Tenor Jean-François Borras is terrific as Raimbaut, Alice’s fiancé, and the Royal Opera Chorus shines. © 2013 Opera News Read complete review



Nicholas Sheffo
Fulvue Drive-in, September 2013

Giacomo Meyerbeer’s Robert Le Diable is an underrated, respected work that does not get enough attention these days that someone has finally put on Blu-ray in a grand performance that does justice to the original text.

…this elaborate, all out interpretation is terrific conducted by Daniel Oren, directed by Laurent Pelly and from the Royal Opera House, it is led by Bryan Hymel in the title role and backed by an exceptional ensemble of amazing (and amazingly powerful) vocalists. Impressive indeed! © 2013 Fulvue Drive-in Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2013

‘If ever magnificence was seen in the theatre, I doubt that it reached the level of splendour shown in Robert le diable. It is a masterpiece.’ So wrote Chopin after the first performance of a work that was to change the career of the German-born Meyerbeer, and was to seal a turning point in the history of the French operatic stage. Indeed the libretto had started out as a three-act ‘opera-comique’, but when the ever commercial Meyerbeer spotted the Paris success enjoyed by the ‘grand’ operas from Auber and Rossini, he persuaded his librettist to change the nature of the story to a five-act drama that would last for almost four hours. Changing fashions, scarcity of suitable voices, and the cost of the elaborate staging needed has today made it a rarity in the opera house, the present performance coming from the stage of London’s Royal Opera House in December 2012. The plot is of Robert, the Duke of Normandy - whose father, rather unbelievably, is the devil - and his love of the Sicilian princess, Isabella. His father seeks to take his soul to hell, but with the help of Robert’s half-sister, Alice, and Isabella, they save him from that fate, the opera ending with the triumph of good over evil, but it is a close run for redemption. The production comes from Laurent Pelly who does not let us forget the libretto’s ‘opera-comique’ origin, his ideas having some distinctly quirky moments in what we still describe as a ‘period’ presentation. The many and varied scenes must have cost a fortune when first staged in Paris, and though modern technology is here employed to fool the eye, it must still have severely strained the Royal Opera House’s annual budget. But how can you stage the work without elaborate sets? The company has also assembled a fine cast headed by Bryan Hymel as Robert, who hits those high notes that Mayerbeer demands so frequently you lose count. He not only sounds, but looks the part of a man torn by his desire for Isabella and his filial affection for his father. That part is taken with considerable power by John Relyea, his dark persuasiveness enjoying music that is far more interesting than Meyerbeer gives to Alice and Isabella, Marina Poplavskaya and Patrizia Ciofi doing there best with somewhat unrewarding roles. John-Francois Borras is a most likeable Raimbaut, the young man in love with Alice, and remaining roles ably taken. The orchestra, conducted by Daniel Oren is outstanding, and the video production is excellent …I place this very high among my top ten opera DVD’s seen this year. There is also a standard DVD version (OA1106D) on two discs costing rather more than the Blu-ray single disc. © 2013 David’s Review Corner






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