Robert Le Diable
ROBERT LE DIABLE. Giacomo Meyerbeer
Royal Opera House London

Review by Polly Hope

This is an odd one by a good opera composer, hands up who has ever seen a production of this before? And why not? Because it is simply awful.

Awful is not a phrase I would use often because I love opera in any guise, in any language, by just about any composer in any venue. But this? However always good that The RoyalOpera House digs in the archivesand dusts down lost works, they might find a miracle, but there is usually a good reason when old stuff isn’t performed.

Robert le Diable is long, with big cuts it still plays for well over four hours. Much too much. A convoluted tale as usual of the Devil buying souls, here he wants a young girl, she is also in love with him. Enough of the story, it goes on and on and round and round in circles.

A hugely complicated production with cliffs falling down and caves exploding in fire and such like, all happeningvery, very slowly so becomes tedious,technical stuff literally to die for. The night I went some of it got stuck so we also were stuck in our seats for yet another hour.

Oh yes the music, nearlyforgot this, certainly some great tunes, and lots of big numbers for the chorus who are off stage, on stage, climbing pinnacles or being burnt in caves,they do all this very well, The solo singers are excellent, as one should always expect in a major opera house. In fact the only thing that kept us, the audience, in our seats were the beautiful voices, though not really fair to give their names when they have to perform such a monster work.

Daniel Oren from Israelconducts; maybe it was his fault it all took so long for he did drag every note out as far as possible.

Still grand opera is grand opera and how ever awful to sit on red plush amid gilded decoration listening to the best canaries around must always give some pleasure. Just buy a recording so you can shut it off when bored.

Hopefully MMXIII will bring some wonders.