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Your reaction: Robert le diable

A selection of your tweets about the return of Meyerbeer's forgotten gem to Covent Garden after a 122 year absence.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

7 December 2012 at 11.19am | 25 Comments

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

7 December 2012 at 11.19am

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged by Laurent Pelly, Production, Reviews, Robert le diable, Social Media, your reaction

This article has 25 comments

  1. John Groves responded on 7 December 2012 at 12:09pm Reply

    This opera needs great singers - and there weren't enough on the opening night. Hymel sounded strained, rather like a baritone trying to be a tenor! The women and smaller roles were excellent and the production great fun, but the opera is too long!! The production at Erfurt/Monte Carlo last year was better sung, and was set in a mental hospital(again!) but also cut about 45 minutes: to the opera's benefit!!

    • thomas wolf responded on 8 January 2013 at 9:32pm

      Sorry, but I don't think Mr. Groves quite gets it. And Mr. Hymel sounded anything but strained. I think Covent Garden could have done better than Ms. Cioffi but she passed. And the production should have been more grand and better than this. I mean, if you are afraid of doing it up right, then perhaps it should not be done. BUT . . . we have to credit Covent Garden for bringing this back and making it available to the public after an unacceptable 122 years. More Meyerbeer please.

  2. I actually enjoyed the production very much, nothing wrong with opera making a bit of fun of itself from time to time and this one can take it ;-) I loved the prop references to cut out books and stories with black and white illustration. Yes, it's a bit jumbled emotionally as a piece and the individual bits don't flow naturally into each other musically, but on their own there are more than a few brilliant ones and there is some tasty belcanto in there :-) Well done to all singers and chorus! They were an absolute joy to listen to!
    and more reviews :-)

  3. Sgett responded on 7 December 2012 at 4:11pm Reply

    I really don´t understand the fact that the quality of Meyerbeer´s music is always so much discussed (and dismissed!) in reviews of rare stagings today. Just listen carefully to it and look at the year 1831, other famous composer´s were composing less innovative and progressive even 30 years later and are still more popular nowadays. Nobody talks about the musical quality of any Verdi, Bizet or Mozart opera, and that´s fine with me! Meyerbeer´s music might be a question of taste, but it had a huge influence on the music world back then for a reason and was praised by a lot a people who really knew about music. I have not seen nor heard Pelly´s production yet, but it is very annoying that Meyerbeer himself needs still so much defence. The question of what particularly this piece can be for modern audiences is somewhat unnecessary, too: Look for what kind of movies people are running to the cinemas! Spectacle, fantasy and Horror. This is what you get from Robert le diable, and an interesting family conflict (Robert between mother and father) that could easily have some meaning in different psychological ways, plus the most original, effective, lively, moving music. Maybe it´s just the other way round: Meyerbeer´s works are too demanding and complex for most of today´s audiences in music and content, but I rather think mainly critics don´t get it or ignore some facts that actually cannot be denied, if you seriously deal with Meyerbeer.

  4. Hmmm! well I have just been reading some review's, from various red top paper's...and wondering if we watched the same opera ?...I'm no opera buff, but actually thoroughly enjoyed , the comedic bits seemed to go down well with the audience, the singing was fine, the chorus great...maybe I enjoyed so much because i'm not some archaic critic who is stuck in the 19th century? I would say go with an open mind if your an opera buff, if not , just go and enjoy.

  5. Sean O'Byrne responded on 7 December 2012 at 10:32pm Reply

    The pretentious comments are rolling in from some of the useless usual clever-dick press parasites. But for us normal punters, it was a great show, with nice touches of humour, great singing and a lovely light touch from Laurent Pelly. I am glad of a chance to hear and see this rarity and I went home with a smile on my face. Well done and thank you to the whole team. I just hope Jennifer Rowley agrees.

  6. Tony Glenville responded on 8 December 2012 at 3:25pm Reply

    I think the most interesting thing is the major and appalling ignorance of most of the so called critics revealed in the reviews. Are they not familiar with the work? It is now easily available in 2012 in DVD/Youtube and audio versions, and has been performed at various houses throughout Europe in the last decade. Instead of reviewing the work some historical context would have been nice from most of them, plus a proper review of the performance. It is all very well to moan about a bad Mimi - there are simply hundreds every year- but for huge non standard roles which require a totally different approach I was staggered at how grudging the reviews were. This is opera and the singers deserve proper analysis, more on the actual singing would have been interesting. I was not 100% convinced by everything but how often is every single thing perfect in such an undertaking, and especially on opening night? At least Pelly didn't have some stupid "its a film being made about Robert le Diable" or "it is all about the inmates of an asylum putting on a performance" or "it's a rehearsal" concept. I still wonder why, for the hard core opera audience members ( and since it seems to be virtually sold out there are more of them than the critics might suggest) it was not perfromed uncut? Thank you to everyone involved and, in spite of all the complications and headaches before the opening night, I loved every minute of my night at Covent Garden. In fact I am working out if I can go to the last night!

  7. John responded on 9 December 2012 at 11:46am Reply

    I haven't been yet but I am SO grateful to the Royal Opera for putting on this important work. Even if the music is disappointing - I don't know the whole work - it is worth staging only for historical reasons! I very much like another commentator's suggestion of asking supporters for suggestions for new productions. Personally I would love to see more Janacek, Enescu's Oedipe and more rare French and Ben canto operas on stage. The audience would love it!

  8. Freddy responded on 9 December 2012 at 9:52pm Reply

    I thoroughly enjoyed the performance this afternoon. I was greatly helped by having heard the excellent 30 minute introductory Insight lecture given by Sarah Lenton which explained the background to the Opera in its time (1831) and which enabled (some) sense to be made of the whole work. Excellent production and singing and well worth the time, effort and expense.
    I sometime wonder whether I see the same show as the critics.

  9. The British critics have shown there usual disdain for Meyerbeer and total lack of comprehension of both his art and of the art of writing a good review. I have hardly read any good analysis based on sound reasoning, facts of history and an analysis of the music. The 'best' was some Wagnerian declaring: Meyerbeer's music is simply bad. Full stop. It fits in with a long tradition of anti French opera sentiments, as German music (with Wagner at the top) still sems to be the intellectual touch stone for anyone who wants to be taken seriously in the classical music world. Anyone interested in an analysis of the music should by the booklet from L'Avant Scene: . It's in French, though...

    I also figure that the score performed at ROH has suffered many small cuts, as this remark from one reaction on this page does not hold true when you hear a complete Meyerbeer score: "..the individual bits don't flow naturally into each other musically..". Of course it is not clear what the reviewer means precisely (and whether his point of reference is for example Tosca, where the music flows continually without separate numbers), but the numbers in Robert usually connect very well.

  10. Jacques responded on 10 December 2012 at 2:49pm Reply

    Bravo, Josst!
    Some of the reviews in the press in London are outrageous. "Robert" is an excellent opera and cast in London is the best possible (Cioi&Hymen)

  11. Marie Dreux responded on 10 December 2012 at 10:42pm Reply

    I wouldn't have missed the opportunity of seeing Robert for quids. Whilst I'm not sure about all of the production, the pole-dancing nuns were a bit boring after a very creepy opening and I would have liked to have seen Taglioni's original, groundbreaking choreography, it was a top night in the theatre. If only I hadn't had to return to Australia so soon I would've seen it again. All the principles were wonderful, especially given the pre performance casting dramas! Hats off, too, to the chorus and orchestra.

  12. Valerie Thornon responded on 12 December 2012 at 10:36am Reply

    I decided to book for a performance of Robert le diable after seeing Faust at Covent Garden a while ago. After reading the reviews, as one does, it is obvious that the theatrical press critics have been cruel and unforgiving to this Opera, so much so, that I thought seriously about cancelling. After much deliberation coupled with reading a few audience reviews, I have decided, after much deliberation, to attend the performance that is booked and hope that I will not be disappointed and that you, fellow opera lovers, are not wrong!

  13. Jeremy Gray responded on 12 December 2012 at 11:04pm Reply

    Sorry, I didn't make it past Act 3 (nor did many others to judge from the rush for the cloakroom). Having been thrilled by Pelly's Ravel at Glyndebourne this summer I attended this with high hopes. But the production was erratic, poorly designed and didn't establish any coherent approach. I felt I was watching a production from 30 years ago. Follow spots??! Act 3 seemed to be by a different designer from Acts 1 and 2. The nuns' dance was grotesque - in the worst sense. The preposterous libretto has to be treated either with complete seriousness as a pre-Wagnerian epic (and that means far more sophisticated design and lighting than was offered tonight), or tongue-in-cheek flippancy - I suspect Richard Jones would have found worthwhile perspectives.


  14. Steve responded on 13 December 2012 at 7:45am Reply

    Really enjoyed Robert Le Diable last night and simply cannot understand the negative reaction that the production has attracted from much of the press and some elements of the public. The singing was excellent, Ciofi especially did a great job, well supported by Poplavskaya and Relyea, admittedly Hymel did struggle at the top on a couple of occassions.
    Loved the set and costumes, the horses in primary colours were great, the fiery mountain excellent. I enjoyed the way the castle was rapidly rearranged to provide new aspects. Set design was only let down in Act V when the heaven & hell representations suggest that the first four acts had totally drained the coffers!
    Anyone who decided not to see Robert as a result of negative reviews has really missed out.

  15. stephen ratcliffe responded on 13 December 2012 at 12:56pm Reply

    I went with an open mind last night but found the whole thing plain boring, as did most of those around me. You can always judge when an audience is bored by the amount of coughing. And there was loads last night! Ms Ciofi was marvellous and it was just about worthwhile staying for her. Conducting and production were pretty mundane but the main flaw is that the opera is just not dramatic and Meyerbeer has no real style, just copies everyone else.

  16. Steven responded on 13 December 2012 at 6:16pm Reply

    Oh how marvellous it must be to be able to boast such a highly tuned level of musical and operatic appreciation that one can claim that they simply could not bear to suffer beyond Act III. What fun to be joined, as we have heard, by hoards of their fellow aficionados at the cloakroom in the interval to be able to pour their derision together upon poor Messrs Pelly, Oren and Meyerbeer.
    Sadly, I cannot boast such taste, so had to endure all five acts of an opera I unfortunately thoroughly enjoyed, including even the Ballet of the Nuns (shameful I know).
    Seriously? I believe the negative criticism received from some quarters to be pretentious at best, and possibly sinister at worst!

  17. Barrie Scott responded on 17 December 2012 at 11:05am Reply

    Thank you, ROH, for staging this rather bonkers opera. Friends and I didn't know what to expect, and were not entirely sure what we had experienced when the curtain fell... a great romp, some splendid (if not universally) musical highlights, and the opportunity to see a memorable performance. Devil Bobby was definitely worth it!

  18. Sgett responded on 18 December 2012 at 4:23pm Reply

    Referring to one review I read, I don´t have to "admit that I have a secret fondness" for Meyerbeer and his music, because I am out and proud:
    I have been in love with his music for many years and I am very familiar with his work and its performance history. In contradistinction to the current incomprehensible musical
    discrimination, this is nothing to be ashamed of! However, I think Royal Opera´s "Robert" misses out on its opportunities.
    The biggest disappointment of this production has been the musical edition presented. How can you ignore all this wonderful music that is included in the new critical edition of the score which was successfully performed in Marc Minkowski´s groundbreaking and highly acclaimed production of the opera in Berlin in 2000? How could back then this production last
    only 30 min longer containing almost a double amount of music? Is nobody at ROH interested in musicological investigations? That Meyerbeer might work best in his completeness?
    I think an opera house has a responsibility for these aspects, and in this case the result is rather embarrassing. The music is even more cut than in the famous 1985 Paris production and yet this evening
    runs longer!
    As for Pelly´s production: I don´t think he didn´t take it seriously. I think, he didn´t take it at all. I actually enjoyed the first act and its irony a lot, but I thought everything coming after was lacking style, ideas, intensity and even an effective stage design or lightening. No flair, no magic, and in case it was the director´s intention: no real humour.
    The nun´s scene for example had no atmosphere at all and, although I am happy for every freelancing contemporary dancer to get a job, the ballet was extremely boring: very
    little, uninspired and self-repeating choreography without any development of movement and the scene. However, this development is clearly laid out by both the libretto, the music and even the programme book! But
    how can you dance properly if the stage is covered in heavy, dangerous props, anyway.
    Sorry girls, grab your nightgowns, get back into your coffins, take this unfortunate production with you and leave Meyerbeer and his operas to people who really do care!
    To end with some good news: Bryan Hymel in the title role was excellent, maybe perfect in voice and characterization. On the other hand I think it could have been a big mistake withdrawing
    Ms. Rowley from this production for her voice might have been less thin and weak and her acting less on the edge to ridiculousness than her replacement`s.

  19. Bridget responded on 20 December 2012 at 11:51pm Reply

    We really loved it, such an enjoyable evening. Thanks to all involved.

  20. Henry Myers responded on 24 December 2012 at 1:54am Reply

    I convinced three friends to travel with me from Vancouver, Canada to attend this production on December 12. Perhaps our attention to the music caused us to miss people walking out before the performance ended. I suspect that the first-night crowd, with many people who attend for the sake of being seen to attend and being seen to have the highest of dudgeon, had the defections.
    This is a remarkable opera, not just from the historical perspective, but musically. I don't know of another opera that has as many thrilling vocal numbers. And the orchestral colours were as dazzling and painted horses.
    I have started to travel to seek out less performed operas as overexposure to Boheme's and Traviatas has dulled me to what once were exciting pieces. I have encountered people who can never get enough of the pop-opera, dour Wagnerites for whom there is only one operatic temple. These are the the pretence-rich, brain dead audience members, lacking curiosity and attention-span, who could not endure hearing this piece to end.
    That Meyerbeer can dish up Bel Canto vocal thrills, with good German orchestral writing and a bit of stage pyrotechnics makes him one of the better antidotes to the opera blas.
    Now if only some opera house would revive Le Prophet!

  21. Like Mr. Myers, I traveled a distance (from California) to attend the December 6 performance. Overall I enjoyed the performance. With the exception of Poplavskaya who was awful and Boras who was excellent, the other singers were creditable. The production was another matter. I simply do not understand how the production team could listen to the music, read the libretto, consider the 1831 premiere and then throw away all the iconic moments. How one longed to see the moonlit ruined abbey and the nuns rising from their tombs. Instead we had lurching zombies. I've read many of the reviews and one would hope that after almost two hundred years critics would stop complaining that Meyerbeer isn't Wagner.

  22. Peter Erdos responded on 25 December 2012 at 1:39pm Reply

    I went to see it on the last night. I have been disappointed first of all by Mayerbeer.In my many years of opera going (more than 60) I heard "The Huguenots" and "L'Africaine" both in good performances and listened on records "La Prophete" with all its brilliance, I could not understand why the ROH chose this opera which seems to me the most inferior of M.'s compositions.Admittedly some very pretty melodies, some beautiful vocal writings but I thought it was completely the wrong "Christmas Fayre" I liked the sillyness of the story well expressed by Mr. Pelly's production and found first class singing by the ladies in particular.Sonia Fomina was brilliant, excellent discovery! Can we have more of her please! Poplavskaya, Hymel and Releya were good, but sloppy conducting by Oren.

  23. Karina responded on 22 January 2013 at 3:14pm Reply

    Loved it! but a bit too long at first with no so much exciting things happening. The last part is the best so might be good to shorten the first part

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