Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Robert le diable. It was last on stage 6–21 December 2012 as part of the Autumn 2012/13 season.
Robert, Duke of Normandy, has travelled to Sicily with the hope of marrying Princess Isabelle. But his sinister companion, Bertram, threatens to lead him astray.
When Robert le diable opened at the Paris Opéra in 1831 it was an immediate success. Its blend of romance, the supernatural and grand spectacle was perfectly judged to meet the tastes of the French public and it made Giacomo Meyerbeer the star composer of grand opera. However, by the 20th century, Robert le diable had fallen out of favour and was rarely performed. Laurent Pelly's 2012 staging brought this classic work to Covent Garden for the first time since 1890.
The production draws on the art and architecture of the Middle Ages to recreate a world of carousing knights, jousting tournaments, courtly dances and supernatural visions. The action is propelled by a battle between good and evil, as Robert's genuine love for Isabelle, expressed in tender duets, is threatened by the malevolent influence of the deceptively charming Bertram. Meyerbeer's score is on a massive scale, ranging from introspective arias to grand ensembles and choruses. Highlights include Alice’s poignant aria in Act I, a macabre ballet of ghostly nuns in Act III (an inspiration for Giselle) and the final, impassioned ensemble of Act V, as Alice and Bertram struggle for Robert’s soul.
News and features
19 March 2015
Have we gone beyond Wagnerian snobbery about the genre’s reliance on special effects?
20 February 2015
In her first post, our Writer in Residence explores the fortunes of a spectacular art form.
24 June 2013
Laurent Pelly's production stars Olivier Award winner Bryan Hymel.
7 December 2012
A selection of your tweets about the return of Meyerbeer's forgotten gem to Covent Garden after a 122 year absence.
6 December 2012
As Robert le diable opens, the historian and broadcaster takes a look at the composer, his music and Jewish identity.
4 December 2012
A look at the origins of the opera and why it became an 1830s blockbuster.
Robert le diable (Robert the Devil) is an opera in five acts composed by Giacomo Meyerbeer from a libretto written by Eugène Scribe and Germain Delavigne. Robert le diable is regarded as one of the first grand operas at the Paris Opéra. It has only a superficial connection to the medieval legend of Robert the Devil. The opera was immediately successful from its first night on 21 November 1831 at the Opéra; the dramatic music, harmony and orchestration, its melodramatic plot, its star singers and its sensational stage effects compelled Frédéric Chopin, who was in the audience, to say, "If ever magnificence was seen in the theatre, I doubt that it reached the level of splendour shown in Robert... It is a masterpiece... Meyerbeer has made himself immortal". Robert initiated the European fame of its composer, consolidated the fame of its librettist, Scribe, and launched the reputation of the new director of the Opéra, Louis-Désiré Véron, as a purveyor of a new genre of opera. It also had influence on development of the ballet, and was frequently mentioned and discussed in contemporary French literature. Robert continued as a favourite in opera houses all over the world throughout the nineteenth century. After a period of neglect, it began to be revived towards the end of the twentieth century.