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
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.
3 December 2012
A glimpse into preparations for the return of Meyerbeer's forgotten gem.
28 November 2012
A guide to Meyerbeer’s classic grand opera, as the curtain goes up on Laurent Pelly’s striking new production.