Monday, 28 November 2011

Roberto Devereux by Donizetti

I saw Roberto Devereux twice: 2001-05-12, 2002-09-30. And I have seen the video with Montserrat Caballé and José Carreras. I love the music. It is a "historical" opera with historical persons. But how historical correct is it? Was Queen Elizabeth I of England and Robert Devereux, the 2nd Earl of Essex really as portrayed in this opera? Usually the answer is no because historical opera is seldom historical correct.

I have read Treason In Tudor England by Lacey Baldwin Smith
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 771 KB
Print Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Vintage Digital (July 8, 2010)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English
First published 1986.

"Treason in Tudor England" is an interesting book. It is easy to read, yet scholarly. As I was half way into the book I started to feel deceived and thought it would never get to Robert Devereux. The chapters has great titles but nothing in the beginning of the book indicated when is it going to be about Robert Devereux even if approx. half the book is about him. It starts with the story of treason in Tudor England but then suddenly it is about the education system, religion and politics. The subtitle is Politics and Paranoia. And it does show that Tudor England was a paranoid society. Only after reading about education, religion and politics at the court can one start to understand why so many who tried treason did it in such a stupid and backhanded way. Then it is all about Robert Devereux. He became a favorite of Elizabeth because of his fresh way of being. But he was too honest for the court life and his narcistic traits with his evergrowing paranoia made him his own enemy.

Of course the opera is quite another thing. In the opera the downfall of Devereux is more about love. Roberto and Sara was in love. Then came the Irish expedition that Devereux lead. When he came back Sara had become the wife of the Duke of Nottingham (that marriage was willed by the Queen). When Nottingham got suspicious of his friend and wife he suddenly was willing to make the Queen execute Devereux when she was inclined to pardon him.

Historical persons
Queen Elizabeth I of England (Elisabetta)
Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham (The Duke of Nottingham)
Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (Roberto Devereux)
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury (Lord Cecil)
Walter Raleigh (Sir Gualtiero Raleigh)
For reviews from my travels, see

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