Gaetano Donizetti

Roberto Devereux

Mar 24 - Apr 19

Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky takes on the extraordinary challenge of singing all three of Donizetti’s Tudor queen operas in the course of a single season, a rare feat made famous by Beverly Sills—and not attempted on a New York stage since. In this climactic opera of the trilogy, she plays Queen Elizabeth I, forced to sign the death warrant of the nobleman she loves, Robert Devereux. Tenor Matthew Polenzani is Devereux, and mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča and baritone Mariusz Kwiecien complete the principal quartet in the bel canto masterpiece, conducted by Donizetti specialist Maurizio Benini. As with the earlier Anna Bolena and Maria Stuarda, the production is by Sir David McVicar, who with this staging completes an enormously ambitious directorial accomplishment.

Production a gift of The Sybil B. Harrington Endowment Fund

The presentation of Donizetti's three Tudor Queen operas this season is made possible through a generous grant from Daisy Soros, in memory of Paul Soros and Beverly Sills

Roberto Devereux is a co-production of The Metropolitan Opera and Théâtre des Champs-Elysées

Read Synopsis Read Program
  • Sung In
  • Italian
  • Met Titles In
  • English
  • German
  • Italian
  • Spanish
  • Estimated Run Time
  • 2 hrs 40 mins
  • House Opens
  • Act I 62 mins
  • Act II 29 mins
  • Intermission 25 mins
  • Act III 44 mins
  • Opera Ends
New Production Mar 24 - Apr 19

This production has completed for the season.

Be sure to check out our remaining productions on the season list.

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A scene from Roberto Devereux

World premiere: Teatro San Carlo, Naples, 1837. First performed two years after Maria Stuarda and Lucia di Lammermoor, Roberto Devereux shows Donizetti at the height of his musical and dramatic powers. The opera’s story was inspired by a historical incident—the execution for treason of Robert Devereux, the favorite of Queen Elizabeth I—but, as in many works of the time, history is used merely as a springboard from which the operatic imagination can soar. Roberto Devereux mirrors the successful structure of the earlier Lucia di Lammermoor: a first act that lays out the issues at stake and introduces the musical language; a second act fashioned as a single dramatic arc; and three intense shorter scenes for the final act.


Gaetano Donizetti (1797–1848) composed about 75 operas plus orchestral and chamber music in a career abbreviated by mental illness and premature death. Most of his works disappeared from the public eye after his death, but critical and popular opinion of the rest of his huge opus has grown considerably over the past 50 years. The Neapolitan librettist Salvadore Cammarano (1801–1852) worked with Donizetti on a number of operas, including Lucia di Lammermoor, and also collaborated with Verdi.

Production Sir David McVicar

Set Designer Sir David McVicar

Costume Designer Moritz Junge

Lighting Designer Paule Constable

Choreographer Leah Hausman

Gaetano Donizetti


Gaetano Donizetti


A scene from Roberto Devereux

The opera is set in London, at Westminster Palace and the Tower. Historical facts place the action between 1599 and 1601 (the year of Devereux’s death).


Donizetti’s gift for melody and understanding of the human voice are on full display in Roberto Devereux, but the score goes beyond that, revealing the dramatic possibilities inherent in the best of the bel canto tradition. Just one remarkable example is the trio finale to Act II for Devereux, Nottingham, and Elizabeth, which contains a range of emotions and psychological states in one cohesive musical structure: the anxious lover, the betrayed husband and friend, and the scorned woman are all given full expression. The opera’s finale belongs entirely to Elizabeth, in a variation of the classic mad scene as an internal journey and spiritual crisis. A nod to local color is found in the overture, which (anachronistically) quotes “God Save the Queen.”