Roberto Devereuxby Gaetano Donizetti
Jan. 30, Feb. 2, 4, 6, 7, 2010
Never betray a woman, especially your Queen.
This Bel Canto masterpiece centers around the tragic love affair between Queen Elizabeth and Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. Though jealous of Devereux's love for another woman, Elizabeth is prepared to forgive his treachery if he returns to her. But Devereux's resistance leads to his demise. Minnesota favorite Brenda Harris (Maria Padilla) stars as Elizabeth, alongside baritone Lester Lynch (Il trovatore), in the first installment of The Minnesota Opera's Tudor Trilogy.
Dates + Performancesat Ordway. Get directions
Join us for Opera Insights, a free prologue one hour prior to each opera performance. These entertaining and informative half-hour sessions, hosted by Artistic Director Dale Johnson or other artistic staffers in Ordway Center's mezzanine lobby. They give an overview of the characters and music, provide historical and cultural context for the opera and highlight certain aspects to watch for during the show.
The women of the court show their concern over Sara's sad demeanor. For her part, Sara cannot be consoled - she is riddled with guilt over her secret love affair with Roberto Devereux, Queen Elisabetta's favorite. Sara is also her monarch's closest friend.
Elisabetta enters, anxious over Roberto's imminent arrival after a lengthy absence. She questions if he has been faithful, again causing Sara to be distressed. The queen reveals her fondness for her young male courtier, more valuable than the throne itself. Cecil and Gualtiero arrive and make a charge of treason against Devereux. While fighting unsuccessfully in Ireland, he has been accused of engaging in traitorous plots. The queen demands further proof and questions Roberto personally. Roberto claims to have only spared the vanquished and is surprised to find a scaffold already constructed for his execution. Elisabetta reminds him of the ring she once gave him, a token that could spare his life in any crisis.
Roberto wishes only to return to the battlefield. Elisabetta senses a coolness in his disposition and tries to get him to admit her rival's name. Aware the knowledge would unleash her fury, Roberto denies that he is in love.
Alone with his friend Nottingham, Devereux muses over his uneasy situation. Nottingham has problems of his own, as his wife Sara seems deeply troubled. Interrupting their heartfelt (yet guilty) exchange, Cecil calls Nottingham to a meeting of the Peers, as a sentence must be decreed. Nottingham promises to save his friend.
Meanwhile, Roberto and Sara meet in secret. He derides her for marrying while he was away, but she counters that it was only because the union was ordered by the queen after her father's death to ensure her financial security. She reminds him that the ring on his hand is a token of overt royal affection, but he quickly removes it, leaving the ring with Sara. She encourages him to escape England and gives him a hand-embroidered scarf as a reminder of their love.
The courtiers gossip over Devereux's fate as Parliament has been meeting throughout the night. Cecil finally emerges and announces a sentence of death. Elisabetta takes Gualtiero aside to learn of Devereux's recent movements. The earl was missing the entire evening. Upon his return, he was disarmed and searched for incriminating documents. Instead they found a silken scarf, and Elisabetta suspects she has been betrayed again that very night. Nottingham enters with the execution order, but begs the enraged queen not to sign it. When Roberto is brought before her, Elisabetta shows him the scarf, and Nottingham privately recognizes it as belonging to his wife. The queen only requ ires that Roberto reveal his lover's name, and she will spare his life, but when he refuses, she furiously signs the death warrant.
In her apartments, Sara receives a secret note from Roberto and learns of his imminent execution, which can only be commuted if she gives Elisabetta his ring that she now possesses. Nottingham enters unexpectedly, sees the letter and demands to read it. Angered by the treachery of both his wife and his friend, he detains Sara's frantic attempts at departure as Devereux is led to the tower.
Alone in his prison cell, Roberto fears his fate, though is certain his messenger has completed his task and the ring has been delivered to the queen. But when Gualtiero and the guards arrive, he realizes his end is near.
At the palace, unaware of her rival's identity, Elisabetta feels her friend Sara's absence in such a dark hour. She tearfully wonders why Roberto has not sent the ring that will save his life. Cecil enters with news that Devereux is on his way to the block. Sara breathlessly arrives with the ring in her hand and confesses she is Devereux's lover. A cannon shot confirms the fatal blow has been delivered, and Elisabetta lashes out at the Nottinghams for their complicity in Devereux's death. As they are taken into custody, the queen laments the weight of her bloodstained crown. She longs for death, commending the burden of leadership to her heir-apparent, James of Scotland.
The Creative Team
|Conductor||Francesco Maria Colombo|
|Stage Director||Kevin Newbury|
|Set Designer||Neil Patel|
|Costume Designer||Jessica Jahn|
|Lighting Designer||D. M. Wood|
|Roberto Devereux, Earl of Essex||Bruno Ribeiro|
|Elisabetta, Queen of England||Brenda Harris|
|Duke of Nottingham||Lester Lynch|
|Sara, Duchess of Nottingham||Tamara Klivadenko|
|Lord Cecil||Brad Benoit|
|Sir Gualtiero Raleigh||Jonathan Kimple|
|A page||Michael Nyby|
|Friend of Nottingham||Rodolfo Nieto|
|Lords, ladies, knights, soldiers, pages,|
|London in the 16th century|
Brad Benoit (Lord Cecil)
Tenor Brad Benoit joined the Minnesota Opera's Resident Artist Program last fall, after attending the prestigious Santa Fe O pera Apprentice Artist Program, where he covered the role of the Novice in Billy Budd. Other training programs to his credit include those at the Chicago Opera Theater and the Staunton Music Festival. Mr. Benoit is a graduate of Chicago College of the Performing Arts and has sung several roles there: Cecco in Il mondo della luna, the Lyric Tenor in Postcard from Morocco, the Prologue in The Turn of the Screw and La Théièry in L'enfant et les sortilèges. He has also performed the roles of Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi and Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia for Opera in the Ozarks and Roméo in Roméo et Juliette and Hadji in Lakmé at his undergraduate alma mater, Loyala University. This past summer he performed in The Tender Land with Sugar Creek Symphony & Song.
On the concert platform, Mr. Benoit has been a guest soloist in Bach's Magnificat for Music by the Lake, Bach's Cantata No. 140 for the Waukesha Symphony Orchestra and the Midsummer Night Benefit for the Young Musicians for Young Humanitarians in Calistoga, California. For The Minnesota Opera last season, Brad sang Ruiz in Il trovatore, Arlecchino and Lampwick in The Adventures of Pinocchio and Count Almaviva in the alternate cast of The Barber of Seville. For his second season in Minnesota, Brad will appear as Gabriele in Casanova's Homecoming, Lord Cecil in Roberto Devereux, Parpingol in La bohème and the Third Jew in Salome.
Francesco Maria Colombo (conductor)
In the 2009–2010 season Francesco Maria Colombo continues his cycle of 20 concerts with the Orchestra Verdi dedicated to the 20th century, inaugurating the second series. This is an unprecedented initiative in Italy, because each concert includes a historico-aesthetic introduction, the analysis of excerpts with live examples from the orchestra, plus the complete performance. The 20 concerts are telecast by Sky TV on its Classica channel. The most recent concert took place on November 22, 2009, and was dedicated to Arnold Schoenberg's Verklaerte Nacht. Again with the Orchestra Verdi, Colombo recorded a compact disc of music by Victor De Sabata, published by Universal last spring. As soon as it came out, the CD won the Italian music critics' award announced by the magazine The Classic Voice for the "best 2009 debut" section. Among his latest successes may be mentioned the debut at the Tenerife Opera Festival (Spain) with a double production: Leoncavallo's Pagliacci and Poulenc's La voix humaine (November 2009), the opening of the celebrations for the Haydn bicentenary as conductor of the Orchestra Haydn di Trento e Bolzano and of the Prague Philharmonic Chorus, with a performance of the Trauer-Symphonie and of the Harmonie Messe, and his recent return on the rostrum of the Pomeriggi Musicali in Milan, with an all-French repertoire (Pelléas et Mélisande by Fauré and the complete version of L'Arlesiènne by Bizet).
Francesco Maria Colombo completed his orchestral conducting studies with Mario Gusella and Donato Renzetti, attending masterclasses held by Franco Ferrara and Carlo Maria Giulini. He made his debut in concert with Renata Scotto, both as pianist and conductor. In 2001 Gian Carlo Menotti invited him to conduct the Spoleto Festival concert in the square, telecast live by the Rai, and in 2002 asked him back to make his first appearance there as an opera conductor, with The Telephoneand The Medium, directed by the composer himself.
Since then, Francesco Maria Colombo has conducted more than 40 orchestras in Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Albania, South Korea, Japan, the United States, Mexico and Argentina. As an opera conductor, he has established regular relationships with, amongst others, the Minnesota Opera for a cycle dedicated to Bel canto (Donizetti's Maria Padilla, Mercadante's Orazi e Curiazi, and in the 2009-10 season he will be back for Donizetti's Roberto Devereux), and the Opera Company of North Carolina for a cycle of operas by Puccini (Tosca, La Bohème, Italian Gala). His most recent opera engagement in Italy is for the production of Donizetti's Don Pasquale in the theatres of the Lombard circuit (As.Li.Co), for which he had in the past conducted Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann and Verdi's Il Trovatore.
He is particularly active in the symphonic repertoire, having conducted among others numerous symphonic works by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Me ndelssohn, Schumann, Dvořák, Grieg, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Mahler, Richard Strauss, Stravinsky, Bartok, Sibelius, Prokofiev, Barber, Gershwin, Porter, Kern, Copland, Nielsen, Britten, Vaughan Williams, Respighi, Berio, Maderna and Messiaen. He has concentrated significantly on the French repertoire, having on innumerable occasions performed the masterpieces of Rameau, Berlioz, Bizet, Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, Saint-Saens, Satie, Poulenc, Milhaud and Hahn.
Since 2002 he has worked regularly with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, which he has conducted in all seasons, in its symphonic and in its opera repertoire, as well as in its summer cycles dedicated to the Musical, and in a Christmas concert in Milan Cathedral.
Brenda Harris (Elisabetta)
Ms. Harris has appeared in leading roles with opera companies and orchestras throughout the world. In North America, she has been heard at the Metropolitan Opera (Vitellia in La clemenza di Tito), The Washington Opera (title role in Agrippina and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni), Washington Concert Opera (title role in Roberto Devereux), Minnesota Opera (title roles in Norma, Armida and Semiramide, and Vitellia, Violetta in La traviata, Camilla in Mercadante's Orazi e Curiazi), New York City Opera (title role in Handel's Agrippina, Donna Anna), Austin Lyric Opera (Chrysothemis in Elektra and Katarina in Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk), Atlanta Opera (Desdemona in Otello, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni and the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro), Michigan Opera Theatre (Norma and the Countess), Arizona Opera (Lady Macbeth in Verdi's Macbeth), Opera Theatre of St. Louis (Countess) and Utah Opera (title role in Ariadne auf Naxos).
In Canada, she has sung leading roles with the Canadian Opera Company, Montreal Opera, Edmonton Opera, Opera de Québec, and Vancouver Opera.
In Europe, Ms. Harris has appeared in Spoleto, Italy as Eva in Die Meistersinger, with Opera du Rhin in Strasbourg as Vitellia and the title role in Barber's Vanessa, and most recently again as Vanessa with Teatro Massimo in Palermo.
In 2006, Ms. Harris debuted the Strauss Four Last Songs with the New Haven Symphony as well as Vaughan Williams' Sea Symphony under Maestro Keith Lockhart and the Utah Symphony.
In 2007, she returned to the role of Lady Macbeth (Verdi) with Edmonton Opera as well as the role of Tosca with the Cleveland Opera, and rejoined Chicago's Music of the Baroque with Jane Glover conducting. She also returned to Austin Lyric Opera for the season opening gala.
The 2008–2009 season emphasized operas of the 20th century. Three were by Benjamin Britten: Albert Herring (Lady Billows) and The Turn of the Screw (Governess) with Portland Opera, and Mrs. Julian in Owen Wingrave with Chicago Opera Theater, and the role of Anna Maurrant in Kurt Weill's Street Scene with Chautauqua Opera. She also added the role of Agathe in Weber's Der Freischutz at Des Moines Metro Opera.
In concert, she performed Beethoven's Ah, Perfido with the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra and as soprano soloist in the Verdi Requiem with the North Carolina Master Chorale. She has also performed as soloist with the St. Louis Symphony, The Orchestra of St. Luke's, Honolulu Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic and Boston Baroque as well as numerous Carnegie Hall performances with the Oratorio Society of New York
Ms. Harris has recorded leading roles for Newport Classic, including Scarlatti's Ishmael, Haydn's La Cantarina and The Creation, and on Vox with Handel's Tolomeo. Just released (spring 2009) is Daron Hagen's Shining Brow on Naxos.
The soprano returns to both Opera Lyra (Ottawa Canada) and Des Moines Metro Opera for Lady Macbeth and Kansas City Lyric Opera as Donna Anna.
Jessica Jahn (costume designer)
Jessica Jahn graduated from Rutgers University with degrees in Dance and Psychology. Recent projects include La Cenerentola with Glimmerglass Opera; Bernstein's Mass with Baltimore Symphony; La bohème at Wolftrap Opera Company; Love, Loss and What I Wore; Die Mommie Die! (Lucille Lortel Award for Costume Design) in New York City; In the Red and Brown Water at the Alliance Theatre; The Mystery of Irma Vep at Studio Arena; and Esoterica at the Daryl Roth Theatre (NY). Upcoming projects include Maria Stuarda and Anna Bolena with Minnesota Opera and Life is a Dream at Santa Fe Opera. Jessica lives in Brooklyn with her cat Emma.
Jonathan Kimple (Sir Gualtiero Raleigh)
Bass-baritone Jonathan Kimple recently completed Portland Opera's Studio Artist Program, where he sang the roles of Giove in Cavalli's La Calisto, Count Ceprano in Rigoletto and the Marchese d'Obigny in La traviata while covering the role of Don Pizarro in Fidelio. As a Santa Fe Apprentice Artist, Mr. Kimple covered the roles of Farasmane in Handel's Radamisto, the title role in Le nozze di Figaro and Alcindoro/Benoit in La bohème. For Sarasota Opera he has sung Count Ceprano in Rigoletto and covered Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte. Other credits include the Sergeant of Police in The Pirates of Penzance for Virginia Opera, Colline (cover) in La bohème for Dicapo Opera and the Grand Prêtre in Antonio Sacchini's Oedipe à Colone for Opera Lafayette.
Originally from central Iowa, Mr. Kimple obtained his bachelor of music degree from the University of Maryland and his master of music degree from Manhattan School of Music, where he performed the roles of William Emmons in The Village Singer and Simone in Gianni Schicchi. He has also attended the Music Academy of the West, covering Don Profondo for its production of Il viaggio a Reims. As a Minnesota Opera Resident Artist, Mr. Kimple will sing Nourabad in The Pearl Fishers, the Second Inquisitor and Tartaglia in Casanova's Homecoming, Gualtiero Raleigh in Roberto Devereux, Colline in La bohème and the Second Soldier in Salome.
Tamara Klivadenko (Sara)
Tamara Klivadenko studied first piano and accordion in her native city Togliatti, before graduating from the vocal department of The Astrakhan State Conservatoire (professor Elena Mikhailova, vocal teacher).
Ms. Klivadenko started her professional career with Astrakhan State Music Theatre, where she has been engaged for three seasons, and joined Novaya Opera in Moscow.
She has performed roles such as Olga in Eugene Onegin, Paulina in The Queen of Spades, Marina Mnishek in Boris Godunov, Lubasha in The Tsar's Bride, Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Maddalena in Rigoletto, Fenena in Nabucco, Flora in La traviata and mezzo-soprano soloist in Verdi's Requiem.
At present Ms. Klivadenko is a permanent resident soloist at Oper Bremen, Germany. She has sung Amneris in Aida, Fenena in Nabucco, Adalgisa in Norma, Hansel in Hänsel und Gretel and title role in La Cenerentola.
Upcoming engagements include the title role in Carmen (Bremen), Sara in Roberto Devereux (Minnesota Opera) and Adalgisa in Norma (Bremen), among others.
Tamara Klivadenko won various prizes at international opera competitions such as XX International M. Glinka Vocalists Competition (second prize, 2003), XXIV International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition (finalist, 2005) and Competizione dell'Opera 2006 in Dresden (finalist, 2006).
Lester Lynch (Duke of Nottingham)
Lester Lynch is recognized as one of today's most promising Verdi baritones. Hailed by The New York Times as "magnificently forceful" for his Carnegie Hall performance at the Marilyn Horne Foundation Gala, Lynch has been praised for his performances at major opera companies throughout the world.
A native of Ohio, Mr. Lynch studied at the Juilliard Opera School before making his debut as Marcello in La bohème with New York City Opera. Other important debuts followed, including Germont in La traviata with Houston Grand Opera, Count di Luna in Il trovatore with Deutsche Oper am Rhein and Seattle Opera and Flint in Billy Budd with Canadian Opera Company. The baritone has enjoyed a long association with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis where he has received critical acclaim for his performances of Calchas in Le belle hélène, Marcello in La bohème and The Bartender in Conrad Susa's Black River.
Recently, Lester was heard as Paolo in The Santa Fe Opera's new production of Simon Boccanegra, where the New Mexican said he sang "with imposing force," and that when he was on stage, "the air snapped." Mr. Lynch has also recently joined the roster of the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Alfio/Tonio in Cavelleria rusticana and I pagliacci as well as a return to the company for the High Priest in Samson et Dalila. Mr. Lynch made an important debut in the title role of Rigoletto with Dayton Opera, where he was noted for his "powerful and intensely moving" performance of the tragic jester.
Mr. Lynch also added other important roles to his growing Verdi repertoire with performances of Renato in Un ballo in maschera with Michigan Opera Theatre and Amonasro in Aida with the Dayton Opera and Connecticut Opera. Other recent performances include appearances with Cincinnati Opera as Marcello in La bohème, Dayton Opera as Tonio in I pagliacci and Count di Luna in Il trovatore, Amonasro in Aida with Dayton Opera, Opera Columbus as Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaroand Nat Turner in Vanqui and Shreveport Opera as Escamillo in Carmen. Mr. Lynch's portrayal of Crown in Porgy and Bess with Houston Grand Opera's International Tour brought him to audiences worldwide, including celebrated performances at Teatro alla Scala and L'Opéra National de Paris – Bastille.
An accomplished concert artist, Mr. Lynch has performed a wide variety of repertoire with many important orchestras, including New York Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Houston Symphony. Mr. Lynch was again as Amonasro in Aida with the Springfield Symphony which was later broadcast on PBS. Also on the concert stage, he performed in Plácido Domingo's Operalia concert in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic with Eugene Kohn conducting. His performances with Chautauqua Symphony of Mussorgsky's Songs and Dances of Death were described as "truly splendid," and the Baltimore Sun praised his Elijah as "glorious." Mr. Lynch's numerous concert appearances also include New World Symphony in Copland's Old American Songs, Mendelssohn's Die erste Walpurgis Nacht with Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago, Bach Magnificat with Orchestra of St. Lukes at Carnegie Hall, Don Fernando in Fidelio with Cincinnati Symphony, Fauré's Requiem with the Duluth-Superior Orchestra, Carmina burana with Fox Valley Symphony and the New York Oratorio Society again at Carnegie Hall, Elijah with the Flagstaff Symphony, Tucson Symphony in Brahms' Requiem, a premiere with the Columbia Pro Cantare in I Build a House. He recently performed both Crown and Jake in Porgy and Bess under the baton of Bobby McFerrin with the Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic and The Ravinia Festival Orchestra.
Mr. Lynch is a frequent recitalist and has performed throughout the United States under the auspices of the Marilyn Horne Foundation. His 2002 Merkin Hall recital included the premiere of Lowell Liebermann's new song cycle, which was commissioned by the Marilyn Horne Foundation for Mr. Lynch. He was heard on New York's classical radio station WQXR and performed a recital with pianist/composer John Musto sponsored by the George London Foundation at New York's Morgan Library.
Mr. Lynch is the recipient of many distinguished awards, such as the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the George London Vocal Competition and the Sullivan Awards. His work with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis earned him the prestigious Richard Gaddes Award.
In the 2005–2006 season Mr. Lynch sang Crown in Porgy and Bess with Washington Opera and on a recording with the Nashville Symphony, the world premiere of Adolphus Hailstork's Whitman's Journey with the Washington Master Chorale at the Kennedy Center, Carmina burana with the Cincinnati Symphony with Maestro Conlin conducting, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Virginia Symphony, Messiah with the Columbia Pro Cantare, a Gershwin Gala with the Grand Rapids Symphony, Dvorak's Te Deum with the Dayton Symphony. Other recent credits include Tonio in I pagliacci with Pittsburgh Opera and Lake George Opera, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Opera Theatre of St. Louis and leading roles with Opera Company of Philadelphia and with Los Angeles Opera. Most recently for the Minnesota Opera, Mr. Lynch performed the role of Count di Luna in its 2008 production of Il trovatore.
Kevin Newbury (stage director)
Recent New York: Bernstein's Mass (Carnegie Hall, United Palace, also Baltimore and Kennedy Center), Candy & Dorothy (GLAAD winner), The Second Tosca, The Eumenides, The Black Monk, Kiss & Cry and concerts at Joe's Pub, Birdland and Ars Nova. Recent Opera Credits: La Cenerentola (Glimmerglass Opera), La bohème (Wolf Trap Opera), Falstaff (Santa Fe Opera), The Barber of Seville, Il trovatore and The Marriage of Figaro (The Minnesota Opera), The Magic Flute (Houston Grand Opera and Opera Colorado), Nixon in China (Revival Director: Minnesota, Chicago, Portland, Cincinnati). Upcoming: Anna Bolena and Maria Stuarda (Minnesota Opera), Virginia (Wexford Opera Festival), Eugene Onegin (Opera Theatre of St. Louis), Mass (European Tour) and the world premiere of Life is a Dream (Santa Fe Opera). Education: Bowdoin College, Oxford University.
Rodolfo Nieto (Friend of Nottingham)
Bass-baritone Rodolfo Nieto most recently appeared as Don Alfonso for Cedar Rapids Opera Theater's production of Così fan tutte. Other roles for that company include the Imperial Commissioner in Madame Butterfly and Pooh-Bah in The Mikado. During the 2008 season he was a Central City Opera Young Artist, where he sang the roles of Don Magnifico and Alidoro in Cinderella and Godofredo in La Curandera for its outreach program. In 2007, Mr. Nieto appeared as Gravitas in the world premiere of Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings at Theatre@Boston Court.
Mr. Nieto attended Northwestern University, where he performed as Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin, Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte and Simone in Gianni Schicchi. At Luther College, he has sung the title role in The Marriage of Figaro, the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance and Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte. As a resident artist for the Minnesota Opera this season, Mr. Nieto appears as the Third Inquisitor and Spanish Captain in Casanova's Homecoming, the Friend of Nottingham in Roberto Devereux, Colline in La bohème and the First Guard in Salome.
Michael Nyby (A page)
Baritone Michael Nyby joins the Minnesota Opera's Resident Artist Program after having spent this past summer as a part of the prestigious Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Artist program. Previously, he has sung Moralès in Carmen for Vancouver Opera and Figaro in The Barber of Barkerville for Vancouver Opera in Schools. For Burnaby Lyric Opera, Mr. Nyby has sung Haly in The Italian Girl in Algiers and the title roles of Don Giovanni and Il barbiere di Siviglia for the European Music Academy of Teplice.
Mr. Nyby holds a master's degree in opera from the University of British Columbia, where he has sung the roles of Ford in Falstaff, Falke in Die Fledermaus and Cascada in The Merry Widow. He obtained his undergraduate degree from Ithaca College, performing such roles Cascada, David in A Hand of Bridge, the Secret Police Agent in The Consul and Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte. He also appeared as Pinellino in Gianni Schicchi for the Ithaca Opera Company. For the Minnesota Opera's 2009-2010 season, Mr. Nyby will be appearing as the Montebank in Casanova's Homecoming, the Page in Roberto Devereux, Schaunard in La bohème and the Fifth Jew in Salome.
Neil Patel (set designer)
Minnesota Opera: Madame Butterfly, Orazi e Curiazi; Opera Theater of St Louis: Anna Karenina, Gloriana, Cavalleria rusticana, Suor Angelica; Santa Fe Opera: Madame Mao, Carmen; New York City Opera: Alcina; Nikikai Opera Theater Tokyo: Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte. BAM Next Wave: War of the Worlds, Hotel Cassiopeia. Broadway: Oleanna, Ring of Fire, Sideman, 'Night Mother. West End: Underneath the Lintel, Sideman. Regional Theater: Guthrie, Steppenwolf, Mark Taper Forum, Arena among many others. International Theater: RSC/Stratford, Hebbel Theater Berlin, Parco Theater Tokyo, Theater Archa Prague, Edinburgh International Festival. Dance: Pilobolus' Shadowland (Teatro Nuovo Apolo Madrid/Zurich Schiffbau) Television: In Treatment (HBO). Awards: OBIE (Sustained Excellence 1996, 2001), Helen Hayes (2008). Education: Yale College.
Bruno Ribeiro (Roberto Devereux)
Bruno Ribeiro was born in Portugal, where he started his studies at the National Music Conservatoire of Lisbon. He then studied with Maestro George Kok in Pretoria and later with Emma Renzi in Johannesburg. There, he sang Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Alfredo in La traviata and Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia.
Bruno made his professional debut in a production of Don Giovanni singing the role of Don Ottavio at the Michigan Opera Theatre. Since then he has performed at several theaters in Italy such as Teatro Regio in Torino, singing in productions of L'amore dei tre re, Il turco in Italia, Don Carlo and Tristan und Isolde.
In 2006, he sang the role of Nemorino in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore at the Teatro Rendano di Cosenza, Teatro Cilea di Reggio Calabria and Teatro Comunale di Catanzaro. In 2007, he sang Arlecchino in I pagliacci conducted by Maestro Bruno Bartoletti at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genova, and was engaged to sing the role of Ismaele in Nabucco for the St. Margarethen Opera Festival.
Bruno Ribeiro has also enjoyed a busy concert activity, with performances of Coronation Mass/Mozart in Bari, Stabat mater/Rossini in Rome, Vespri Sicilianii/Mozart in Reggio Calabria, as well as recital appearances.
In the past few months, Bruno Ribeiro has taken part in several concerts in the United Kingdom and Italy and at Teatro São Carlos in Lisboa. He also sang the role of Narraboth in Strauss' Salome at the Teatro Regio di Torino, his first Don Alvaro in La forza del destino at the Belcanto Opera in England and Almaviva at Firenze Festival Opera.
Other recent engagements include Il corsaro at the Verdi Festival of Parma in Busseto, a concert in Parma and Lucrezia Borgia at Staatsoper München, Don Carlos at Belcanto Opera in England and Nabucco at the Mai Festspiele in Wiesbaden.
In 2009–2010, Mr. Ribiero will be singing I masnadieri and Nabucco in Parma/Busseto at the Verdi Festival, Roberto Devereux at Minnesota Opera and I Capuleti ed i Montecchi in Dublin. In 2011, he will sing his first Des Grieux (Massenet's Manon) in St Gallen.
D. M. Wood (lighting designer)
Credits include co-design of How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Broadway, Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles), Die Zauberflöte (Houston Grand Opera), La traviata (Opera Colorado), The Sound of a Voice and Hotel of Dreams (Long Beach Opera), Die Zauberflöte (Opera Colorado), Il viaggio a Reims (New York City Opera), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Lyric Opera of Kansas City), Tosca (Canadian Opera Company), La Cleopatra and Oedipus Rex (Opernhaus - Graz, Austria), Tristan und Isolde (Savonlinna Opera Festival, Finland), Les Misérables (New Production: Tour of Denmark) and the transfer designs of Simon Boccanegra and L'incoronazione di Poppea (New Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv).
Ms. Wood has also designed for the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Charleston Ballet Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Primary Stages NYC, Baltimore CenterStage, The Minneapolis Children's Theatre Company, NYSF/The Public Theater, Trinity Repertory Company, Philadelphia Theatre Company and the American Repertory Theatre.
Recent projects include the co-design of Annie Get Your Gun (The Young Vic, London), La Cenerentola (Glimmerglass Opera) and Romance (American Repertory Theatre).
Music by Gaetano Donizetti
Libretto by Salvadore Cammarano
after the play Élisabeth d’Angleterre
by Jacques-François Ancelot
World premiere at the Teatro San Carlo, Naples
October 28, 1837
January 30, February 2, 4, 6 and 7, 2010
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
Sung in Italian with English captions
Roberto Devereux, along with Maria Stuarda and Anna Bolena, make up what is commonly referred to as the Tudor trilogy, three operas composed over a seven-year period by Gaetano Donizetti that testify to his greatness. The composer did not necessarily plan these pieces as a unified progression of operas – likely he set whatever subject assigned to him by the theater’s impresario. Nonetheless, their unity represents an interesting survey of Queen Elizabeth i’s long life: the displacement and arrest of her mother and Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn (Elizabeth being present on earth, if not in the libretto); the imprisonment and death sentence of her cousin, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots; and the trial and execution of her once favorite, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. One could even speak of a “tetralogy” if we include Elisabetta al castello di Kenilworth, a work written one year prior to Anna Bolena, which revolves around the secret marriage of an earlier favorite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (and the only one which ends happily with a once-angered queen’s magniloquent pardon).
The history of the British Isles became popular with Bel Canto composers on the Continent following the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and with the advent of English authors Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron. Gioachino Rossini wrote his Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra in the same year (with a plot similar to Kenilworth, though Scott’s novel had yet to be published) and La donna del lago (based on Scott) four years later. In subsequent decades, Saverio Mercadante produced Maria Stuarda, regina di Scozia (1821), Il conte di Essex (1833) and La gioventù di Enrico V (1834; based on Shakespeare’s Henry V). Giovanni Pacini composed his own version of Henry V in 1820 as well as Margherita, regina d’Inghilterra (1827; based on Margaret d’Anjou, wife of Henry VI) and Maria, regina d’Inghilterra (1843; a quasi-historical opera about Mary Tudor, Elizabeth’s half-sister). Vincenzo Bellini’s last opus, I puritani (1835), involves political machinations surrounding the execution of Charles I. Donizetti produced an Alfredo il Grande (1832; based on an early Wessex king), the famous Lucia di Lammermoor (1835; loosely based on an episode of Scottish history) and Rosmonda d’Inghilterra a year earlier. The tale of Rosamund Clifford, ill-fated mistress of Henry II who was poisoned by his jealous wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, is touched upon in Roberto Devereux as Sara considers her adulterous plight.
It was Mercadante’s unsuccessful Il conte di Essex that caught Donizetti’s attention in 1834. He petitioned librettist Felice Romani to revise it for him, but the usually slow and overcommitted librettist didn’t even bother to respond. Donizetti probably kept the idea in the back of his head, leaving Romani’s widow, Emilia Branca, to later accuse Devereux-librettist Salvadore Cammarano of plagiarism. Actually, both librettists had at their disposal a recent play, Élisabeth d’Angleterre by Jacques-François Ancelot. The French playwright based his narrative on a long tradition of French dramas based on the Virgin Queen, most notably by Thomas Corneille and Gaultier de Coste, seigneur de la Calpranède. Both operas follow the five-act tragedy quite closely, though Cammarano added Devereux’s Act III prison scene for a little extra pathos. The librettist also deleted much of Ancelot’s political subterfuge, leaving Elisabetta’s final line about leaving her kingdom to Scottish ruler (and Mary Stuart’s son) James VI as somewhat strange and unexpected.
In reality, history has little to do with either Élisabeth d’Angleterre or Roberto Devereux. Elizabeth didn’t have love affairs in the traditional sense (if we are to believe her status as the Virgin Queen). She feared losing power to a man if she were to be married, so she spent her life with various flirtations, teasingly in pursuit of powerful head-of-states only to back out of the matrimonial plans at the very last moment. She preferred to shower attention on certain men of her court, most notably the Earl of Leicester, and then to his stepson, Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex. They in turn could exploit her favoritism to advance their position at court, often to the disgust and envy of the other male courtiers. This was particularly evident in the case of Devereux, who used his charm (in spite of the 32-year age difference) to garner Elizabeth’s attention. Like Leicester, Devereux married in secret without the queen’s regal permission, but Elizabeth overlooked his indiscretions, many of which she would never have tolerated from anyone else. As we get to the events of the opera, Devereux has one conquest to his credit – the raid of Cadiz (we are just a few years after the failed Spanish Armada), gaining him popularity with the people. As a result, he petitioned his ruler to be allowed to quell the uprising in Ireland. At first she was reluctant, but then gave him the necessary troops, the largest contingent she had ever approved.
No one else would have ever wanted this task. The rebels were led by Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, a formidable enemy, and once Devereux had landed, he delayed in fear, waiting for the right moment to strike. This dalliance cost the frugal queen some expense, and though he wished to return to England, she sharply commanded he stay until the deed was done. Instead, Devereux arranged a secret meeting with Tyrone in an attempt to find an easier solution than outright warfare, where the English army was sure to lose. Devereux then went back to England without permission and was arrested for treason.
This is not the betrayal for which he was executed (Elizabeth having pardoned him for that rather major blunder). Devereux had many bitter enemies at court, chief of them being Cecil and Sir Walter Raleigh (both featured in the opera). The succession issue was a complicated one as the childless and sibling-less Elizabeth had no direct heir. James VI, related to her through the executed Mary Stuart, was the closest blood relative. Though a union with Scotland wasn’t very palatable, it assured the Protestant religion would remain in force. Throughout her life, Elizabeth endured a Catholic threat, particularly from her ex-brother-in-law Philip ii of Spain. His second wife had been Mary Tudor – during her reign he had been, in title, King of England.
In Catholic eyes, Elizabeth was a bastard. Her father Henry VIIIs marriage to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon (Philip’s great aunt) had never been annulled by the Pope. Philip’s solution was to dethrone Elizabeth in favor of his daughter by his third wife (Elizabeth de Valois, later to be featured in Verdi’s Don Carlos), the Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia. Furthermore, following the War of the Roses, the Tudor claim to the English throne had been a shaky one, and Philip could trace his bloodline back to a son of English King Edward III. His successor, Philip III, perpetuated this theory after his father’s death.
Devereux foolishly concocted a plan in order to show himself as protector of the queen from this supposedly imminent danger and to discredit Cecil and the others. During an uprising, he tried to rally his popularity with the people, but none was forthcoming. Hiding in defeat, Devereux was arrested by the Lord Admiral, none other than the Duke of Nottingham (who was not a close friend, nor did his wife ever have an affair with Essex). As his guilt of high treason was undeniable, Devereux was executed in 1601, and an aging Elizabeth never recovered from her grief, dying two years later (this is the sadness and exhaustion Elisabetta expresses in her final aria, “Quel sangue versato”). During that time she had worn around her neck a ring Devereux had once given her.
Could this be the ring in the opera? History denies this manner of exchange could have saved his life, though such a story quickly made it into legend and literature. Nonetheless, that coup de théâtre along with the appearance of a jealousy-inducing scarf worthy of Shakespeare, makes Roberto Devereux a compelling piece supported by Donizetti’s fully developed, highly emotional score. Elisabetta may not be the title character (as she is in Ancelot’s original play), but she becomes the star of the show through her journey from jealous pride to complete devastation.
b Bergamo, November 29, 1797; d Bergamo, April 8, 1848
With nearly 70 operas to his credit, Gaetano Donizetti was the leading Italian composer in the decade between Vincenzo Bellini's death and the ascent of Giuseppe Verdi. Donizetti was born in the northern Italian city of Bergamo to an impoverished family. After showing some musical talent, he was enrolled in the town's Lezioni Caritatevoli where he had the good fortune to study with Giovanni Simone Mayr, maestro di cappella at Santa Maria Maggiore. Originally from Bavaria, Mayr was a successful composer in Italy during the era preceding Rossini's rise to fame, with dozens of operas to his credit. Though offered many prestigious appointments throughout Europe, Mayr remained loyal to his adopted community and greatly enhanced the local musical institutions. Donizetti arrived at a time when Mayr was writing his greatest operas, and his impression on the younger composer was pronounced. Throughout his life, Donizetti regarded him as a second father, though he would outlive his master by only three years.
When it came time, Donizetti furthered his education at the Accademia Filarmonica in Bologna (shadowing Rossini, who had once studied there). He had already penned several short operas before receiving his first commission in 1818 from the Teatro San Luca in Venice – this was Enrico di Borgogna to a libretto by Bartolomeo Merelli. (In later years, as impresario of La Scala, Merelli was instrumental in the beginnings of Verdi's career.) Further works were produced in Venice, but Donizetti returned to Bergamo for a few years of relative inactivity. A letter of introduction from Mayr to poet Jacopo Ferretti led Donizetti to Rome, where in 1822 he would have his first unequivocal success, Zoraide di Grenata. His career was just getting started.
Later that year Donizetti settled in Naples and used it as a base for the next 16 years. He arrived just as Rossini was finishing his seven-year contract with the royal theaters. Like Rossini he had the ability to work at the increasingly rapid pace demanded by the Italian theater industry and was able to produce three to four operas a year for most of his life.
Many remain timeless gems. L'elisir d'amore (1832), La fille du régiment (1840) and Don Pasquale (1843) demonstrated his expert handling of lighter subjects. Lucrezia Borgia (1833), Gemma di Vergy (1834), Lucia di Lammermoor (1835), Maria de Rudenz (1838) and Maria Padilla (1841) displayed the composer's mastery of the Italian melodrama fueled by impassioned and unrestrained literature of the Romantic period. His influence on Verdi cannot be underestimated.
Donizetti's success in dealing with both comic and tragic settings was due in part to his own manic depressive personality. Well acquainted with personal misfortune, Donizetti lost in the span of eight years his mother, father, two infant sons, an infant daughter and Virginia Vasselli, his wife of seven years. He never truly recuperated after her death, locking the door to her room and refusing to utter her name again. His melancholia may have been induced by early symptoms of syphilis, which he contracted as a young man. It may have also been brought on by the responsibility he felt for harboring the disease that likely cost him his wife and children.
Donizetti made his Paris debut in 1835 with Marino Faliero at the Théâtre Italien and later premiered Les martyrs (1840) at the Paris Opéra. A French translation of Lucia made his name a household word, and in 1840 the composer captivated audiences with La favorite, which became hugely popular throughout Europe and North America. One of his very last works for the stage, Dom Sébastien (1843), was cast in the mold of French grand opéra and was extremely well-received.
The composer had hoped to assume Niccolò Zingarelli's post as director of the Naples Conservatory, but when the 85-year-old composer died in 1837, Donizetti's considerable musical contribution to the city was overlooked. Preference was given to a lesser composer, Saverio Mercadante, chiefly because he was a native Neapolitan. After his brief stint in Paris, Donizetti turned toward the Austrian state, where he became music director of the imperial theaters. Two of his final works had their premiere at Vienna's principal venue, the Kärntnertortheater: Linda di Chamounix (1842) and Maria di Rohan (1843). After the success of Linda, he was appointed Composer to the Austrian Court, a position Mozart had held a half century before.
By 1845, symptoms of his illness had become incapacitating, and his erratic behavior could no longer be excused by overwork. With his family's intervention Donizetti was placed in a French sanitarium at Ivry for 17 months, then transferred to a Paris apartment. There he was regularly visited by musicians and colleagues, including Verdi, but by this point he was paralyzed, disoriented and rarely spoke. In September 1847, friends arranged his return to Bergamo, where he passed his final days at the home of a wealthy patroness.
Miricioiu, Bros, Ganassi, Frontali, Broadbent, Leggate
Benini; Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Sills, Taweel, Glossop, van Allan, Howell, Garrard, Ilosfalvy,
Wolff, MacDonald; Mackerras; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Gruberova, Ziegler, Bernardini, Kim, Boutet, Kazbek, Richert
Haider; Chœur de l'Opéra du Rhin and Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg
Donizetti and His Operas
Cambridge University Press
Donizetti and the World of Opera in Italy, Paris and Vienna in the First Half of the 19th Century
John Stewart Allitt
Donizetti in the Light of Romanticism
The Life of Elizabeth I
FOR MORE INFORMATION
A class devoted to Roberto Devereux will be held on Thursday, January 14, 2010, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Call 612-333-6669 for registration information or visit mnopera.org/learn/classes.