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Meyerbeer Robert Le Diable / Oren, Ciofi, Hymel, Relyea, Poplavskaya, Courjal [blu-ray]

Meyerbeer / Hymel / Orchestra Of Royal Opera House
Release Date: 07/30/2013 
Label:  Opus Arte   Catalog #: 7121  
Composer:  Giacomo Meyerbeer
Performer:  Marina PoplavskayaJean-François BorrasNicolas CourjalBryan Hymel,   ... 
Conductor:  Daniel Oren
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House OrchestraRoyal Opera Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
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Blu-ray Video:  $39.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This Blu-ray Disc is only playable on Blu-ray Disc players and not compatible with standard DVD players.

Also available on standard DVD

A grand opera that dominated the stages of Europe for most of the 19th century, Robert le diable is a masterpiece. Director Laurent Pelly breathes new life into Giacomo Meyerbeer's great spectacle and audaciously entertaining moral fable, in this colourful new staging for The Royal Opera. The wonderful score includes brilliant arias, dramatic ensembles, rousing choruses and a ballet of ghostly nuns, and with the wavering hero of the title sung by Bryan Hymel, acclaimed for his role as Énée in Les
Read more Troyens for The Royal Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, this is an unmissable experience.

What the press said:
''...some amazing singing. Bryan Hymel as Robert and Patrizia Ciofi as his beloved Isabelle tackle their immense roles with tremendous panache and stamina.'' The Guardian

''the production is worth seeing for anyone interested in the history of opera and it may well be another 120 years before Covent Garden stages it again.'' Washington Times

Giacomo Meyerbeer
(Blu-ray Disc Version)

Robert – Bryan Hymel
Isabelle – Patrizia Ciofi
Bertram – John Relyea
Alice – Marina Poplavskaya
Alberti – Nicolas Courjal
Master of Ceremonies – David Butt Philip
Second Chevalier / Herald – Pablo Bemsch
Prince of Granada – Ashley Riches
Fourth Chevalier / Priest – Jihoon Kim
Raimbaut – Jean-Francois Borras
Lady-in-waiting to Isabelle – Dušica Bijeli?

Royal Opera Chorus
Royal Opera House Orchestra
Daniel Oren, conductor

Laurent Pelly, stage director

Recorded live at the Royal Opera House, December 2012

- The Legacy of Robert le diable
- Cast gallery

Picture format: 1080i High Definition
Sound format: LPCM 2.0 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: English, French, German, Japanese, Korean
Running time: 122 mins
No. of Discs: 1 (Blu-ray)

Full Review:

So, it seems I am playing the mop-up role again. James Altena has reviewed the DVD version of this Covent Garden video in the previous issue of Fanfare. I have here the Blu-ray version. Altena gives this production of Robert le Diable a favorable review, with which I generally agree, but we have some differences, which I will get to in a few moments. First, let me say that, as usual, the Opus Arte Blu-ray disc provides finely detailed video resolution and in this case, satisfying state of the art sound in both PCM stereo and HD surround formats. We are undergoing another major change in media formats with video and you would be wise to hop on board sooner rather than later.

Robert le Diable was one of the most popular operas of the 19th century, not only in France, but throughout the world. If we take a bit less enthusiastic a view today, it still should be with the appreciation that this is a fine operatic work which fully deserves a place in the standard repertoire. Here, as Altena says, we have probably the best recording of it to date, whether on audio or video. It does not come without flaws, however. This production has been criticized, especially in the British press, for its nontraditional, even cartoonish, sets: multicolored plastic horses for the knights, a cut-out cardboard castle for the princess Isabelle, a bar with red-checked tablecloths, and a lighted framework suggesting a simple frame church. In the final scene Robert is tempted to enter the dragon’s mouth to hell by dear old dad, while his doting step-sister Alice sits amongst fleecy clouds trying to entice him to the path of righteousness. Like Altena, I find all of this rather innocuous, even mildly entertaining. The story being told still comes through loud and clear with all its dramatic integrity maintained. The dance of the licentious nuns however, reportedly a major highlight in Paris, is a bit of a disappointment here. With their diaphanous white costumes we can’t even tell they are nuns, and they are made to look and act like escapees from Night of the Living Dead.

Considering all of the changes in cast for this production at the Royal Opera House in London, the singers that finally do appear are quite good. Bryan Hymel, as Robert, smudges a coloratura run or two, which original choice Juan Diego Flórez would have sung more cleanly, but Hymel sings very well here, and his dramatic ability is well beyond anything we could expect from Flórez. Patrizia Ciofi, a last-minute replacement, is a fine singer, and takes the vocal honors in this cast. Her coloratura is performed impeccably, and I do not hear a hint of the acidity in her top range reported by Altena. Ciofi is a major operatic star, lovely and well-cast here. It is baffling to me that she continues to be snubbed by the Metropolitan Opera. Russian soprano Marina Poplavskaya also always sings very well, as I have noted before, but lacks charisma on stage. Here, cast as the loving step-sister Alice, the epitome of good, I found myself rooting for Robert to step into the dragon’s mouth. Maybe it’s just me. Robert, like Hamlet, never really decides anything; the clock runs out, like at a football game. I guess we can all be relieved there are no last-minute turnovers. I was disappointed in bass John Relyea. Not only is he not the successor to Samuel Ramey in these roles, he lacks the vibrant low register to really carry this work as it should be sung. Twenty years ago Ramey would have eaten this role alive; sadly, we have no one comparable today.

I am also a bit perplexed by Altena’s favorable advocacy of the booklet notes. If the booklet writer is discussing literary values or grand themes pertaining to all the Meyerbeer operas, he is most probably addressing the work of librettist Eugene Scribe rather than composer Meyerbeer himself. I find all this intellectual analysis a bit pretentious and overblown; Scribe, like all librettists, was just looking for good stories, he was not contemplating writing Paradise Lost. This one is a good story, despite our perhaps more jaded 21st-century perspective, with quite good music to match. Recommended.

FANFARE: Bill White
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Works on This Recording

Robert le Diable by Giacomo Meyerbeer
Performer:  Marina Poplavskaya (Soprano), Jean-François Borras (Tenor), Nicolas Courjal (Bass),
Bryan Hymel (Tenor), John Relyea (Bass), Patrizia Ciofi (Soprano)
Conductor:  Daniel Oren
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Orchestra,  Royal Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831; France 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Enjoy! November 14, 2013 By mary w. (flowery branch, GA) See All My Reviews "Absolutely loved this - such fun. Lovely music, beautifully sung and John Relyea is a delightful devil. I have just ordered all the other Meyerbeer Operas I could find!" Report Abuse
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