The Metropolitan Opera HD Live (2006–…): Season 10, Episode 9 - Donizetti's Roberto Devereux - full transcript



Hello. I'm Deborah Voigt.

Thank you for joining us for
the Metropolitan Opera premiere

of Donizetti's riveting
historical opera

"Roberto Devereux,"
about the dramatic final episode

in the life of
Queen Elizabeth I,

the scorned Tudor queen

who sends her own beloved
to his beheading.

As with Verdi's "Il Trovatore,"

a performance of
"Roberto Devereux"

is only as good as its
four principal singers.

And what a great cast we have
for you today.

Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky
stars as

the 69-year-old Queen Elizabeth,

torn between jealousy
and love,

singing a role
of enormous vocal range

that few artists
have dared to attempt.

Tenor Matthew Polenzani

sings the title role of
Roberto Devereux,

who betrays the queen's love.

Mezzo soprano Elena Garanca
is Sara,

the object of Devereux's
secret devotion.

Baritone Marius Kwiecien
is the Duke of Nottingham,

Sara's cuckolded husband,

who is betrayed by
his best friend Devereux.

It's a story of intersecting
love triangles,

performed by four of the world's
leading bel canto stars.

Director Sir David McVicar
enhances the dramatic spectacle

by presenting it as
a play within a play,

with the members of
the Tudor court as the audience.

Maestro Maurizio Benini
is ready to go to the pit.

Here is "Roberto Devereux."

-Now calling Maestro to the pit,

Maestro Benini, you're called to
the pit. Thank you.

[ Applause ]

[ Orchestra begins playing ]

[ Overture concludes,
audience applauds ]

[ Orchestra playing ]

[ Courtiers applaud ]

How she sighs!

A deathly pallor is painted on her face!

A grief, a terrible grief is buried in her heart.

Sarah? Duchess?

Rouse yourself.

Why this sadness?

Such sadness within me!

Whence come these tears?

(Ah! My heart betrays me!)

I have been reading
the sorrowful tale of Rosamond.

Ah! Close the sad book
that causes you such grief.

–My grief!
–Confide your grief to your friends.

Ladies, you cannot think–

Trust us!

I? No, I am perfectly happy.

Her smile is even more unhappy than her tears.

[ Laughing ]

To one who is sad, weeping is sweet.

It is the only joy left.

But my ill-omened star even forbids me to weep.

How much more cruel, poor Rosamond,
is my fate than yours!

You died but once.

While I live, I die again and again.

Death took you, but leaves me.

Yes, death took you, but leaves me.

While I live, I die again and again.

[ Applause ]

Duchess, at last I yield to
the fervent requests of your husband.

I shall see the Earl of Essex again.

God grant that it be not the last time I see him...

...and that I not see his heart stained with betrayal.

He was always faithful to his Queen.

Faithful to his Queen?

Is that enough, Sarah?

It is necessary that I,
Elizabeth, find him faithful.

–(I freeze!)
–I have revealed my heart to you.

[ Taps cane ]

A terrible suspicion haunts me.

To Ireland's shores he went at my command...

...because I wished him far from London.

Now he returns, accused of treason.

But I fear to find him guilty of another crime.

If I should discover a rival...

...oh, how great would be my vengeance!

(Where can I hide myself?)

To steal Robert's heart from me...

...would be like stealing my very crown.

His love was a blessing to me,
a gift from heaven on high.

For this soul in love... was a greater happiness than my throne.

But if I have been betrayed...

...if his heart is no longer mine...

...then all the pleasures of life
will for me be turned into grief and woe.

Every happiness gone!

All life's pleasures will be turned into tears.

Every happiness gone!

[ Cheering and applause ]

I come as spokesman of Parliament.

(I tremble!)


(Hatred is etched on his face!)

The Earl of Essex has been charged with treason.

Judgment has been delayed by your leniency.

To pronounce sentence and
to foil his traitorous plots... well know is the right of the peers.
That right we hereby demand.

My lords, you must offer
stronger proof of his crimes.

Lord Essex begs to prostrate himself at your royal feet.

Let him come.

I wish to hear him out.

(How my heart is pounding!)

May you return as you were in happier days.

Your enemies will fall before you.

My kingdom, the whole world, may call you guilty...

...yet if love guides you to my feet,
you are innocent to me!

If love guides you to my feet,
you are innocent to me!

(May heaven smile on him,
no matter how tragic for me.)

The star that controls his life has not yet set.

Come! Hasten!

Return as I have hoped.

Your enemies will fall in the dust.

Let the entire world call you a traitor.

In my eyes, you will be innocent!
Innocent before the world.

Innocent before the entire world.

If love guides you to my feet,
you are innocent to me!

[ Cheering and applause ]

My royal lady, I kneel before you.


Rise, my lord, I command you.

I shall soon make my wishes known.

My lords, farewell.

In the guise of a guilty man,
you have returned to our presence.

You dared betray me? You plot to seize
my crown, the crown of my ancestors?

Let my chest, now covered with scars
from the swords of your enemies, answer for me.

But the accusation?

What of it?

I routed the rebel forces on the battlefield...

...then was merciful to the vanquished.

Such is the crime for which
Elizabeth would have a scaffold built.

Ungrateful man, I have delayed your sentence.

By my order you are still at liberty.

But why do you speak of the scaffold?

For you, no law would ever lead to a grave.

When the trumpets summoned my warriors
to destroy the towers of proud Cadiz... feared your ruin was being plotted from afar,
plotted by envy and blind rage.

I gave you this ring, and my royal word...

...that on any occasion, if you presented it to me... would serve as a pledge of your safety.

With that thought I return to happier times!

Then, my days flowed by as gently as hope itself!

Oh, fortunate days!

Oh, memories!

A tender heart made me happy...

...a happiness mere words cannot express.

Life seemed a dream of love.

But that dream disappeared.
That heart changed.

(In vain, fate showed me a throne.)

(For me, life does not smile with hope.)

(The universe is silent and empty.)

(The jewels of a crown hold no allure.)

You are silent?
Is it true you have changed?

How can you say that!

Say the word, and your warrior rises
to destroy your enemies.

You shall have proof of my obedience and valor.

But not of your love!

You wish to go to battle?

But pray tell, would you not then
bring tears to someone's eyes here?

Were you to be put in harm's way,
would not a heart here beat anxiously?

The heart of a woman bound to you by love!

Ah! So you know?
(Heavens! What have I said!)

Well then? Open your heart to me now.

What frightens you? Be bold.

Name your beloved.
I will lead you both to the altar.

–You are mistaken.
–(Oh, my vengeance!)

Are you not in love?

Beware! Are you not in love?

I? No.

A terrible flash of lightning streaked before my eyes.

No, the guilty woman cannot flee my vengeance!

This faithless, treacherous man will die!

My haughty rival will die with him!

My haughty rival will die with him!

Hide, my heart.
Cease your wild pounding.

Let my unfortunate love feed only on tears.

Let me be the only victim of her suspicions.

My secret love will find
both its death and its tomb in me.

–My Queen!
–Well? Go on....

My lord.

My Queen!

Are you in love?

I am not.

Hide, my heart.
Cease your wild pounding.

My unfortunate love will feed only on tears.

I will punish his secret love.

Let her suspicion fall only on me.

My secret love will find its death in me.

My haughty rival will die with him!

[ Applause ]


It is good to see you again!

Your face is so pale.

Perhaps...? I am afraid to ask.

She has not sentenced me yet.

But in her frightening gaze I saw
a hunger for my blood.

No more, please!

My very soul is filled with anguish and fear!

Let my destiny be fulfilled.

You, in the arms of your dear wife,
must forget this unhappy man.

What are you saying?

Fate has doomed me to be neither
a friend nor a happy husband.

Tell me.

A secret suffering saddens Sarah's days...

...slowly leading her to her grave.

(She is tortured by guilt!)

Yesterday was quiet when,
earlier than usual, I went to take my rest.

I came unexpectedly to the room
where she prefers to be alone.

The sound of her sobbing
stopped me at the doorway.

She was embroidering a blue scarf with gold thread.

Often, tears forced her to stop her needlework.

She prayed for death!

I crept away, my soul in turmoil,
my mind distraught as a madman's.

Perhaps her sensitive heart
is accustomed to weeping.

I, too, have fallen prey to her fatal melancholy.

I suffer in tears and do not know why!

I suffer in tears and do not know why!

Sometimes doubt whispers to me, a jealous voice.

But reason quickly dispels the dreaded suspicion.

Sin can never enter the soul of an angel.

Sin can never stain the soul of such an angel.

[ Applause ]

My lord, come.

The Queen summons the peers to a council.

What is this about?


But what is it about?

A sentence too long postponed.

I will come.

My friend!

Your eyes are brimming with tears.

Leave me to my peril.
Leave me.


I want to save you.

I want to save you.

All here call you traitor,
and a horrible fate hangs over you.

I alone defend your honor.
Earth and heaven will listen to me.

O God, that I might spare your life and reputation!

Let the sacred voice of friendship
speak through my lips!

May friendship speak through me.

No heart on earth suffers like mine.

This proud man will justly pay for his crimes.

Come, my lord, come.

I will follow you.

Oh, my friend!

All here call you a traitor, and your fate is dire.

But I shall defend your honor.

I will beg God himself to spare
your life and reputation.

Let the sacred voice of friendship
speak through my lips!

Let friendship speak through me.

This criminal will pay for his treachery.

Yes, the voice of friendship will speak through me.

Let friendship speak through me.

[ Applause ]

All is silence.

In my heart alone sounds a voice...

...a cry, like that of a stern accuser!

But I am not guilty.

I yield to the judgment of mercy, not of love.

The fearful danger that threatens Robert
makes me forget my own peril.

Who is approaching?

It is he!

Once, cruel woman, you allowed me
to fall in love with you!

Liar! Traitor!
Faithless woman!

What term of scorn do you not deserve?

Listen to me.

You were already gone when
my father died and was buried.

I was orphaned and alone.

"You need protection," the Queen told me.

"I will arrange a happy marriage for you."

And you?

I refused.

I begged to take the veil,
but I was dragged to the marriage bed.

What am I saying?
It was my deathbed!

Oh, heavens!

However unhappy I am,
may fate make you a happy man.

Turn your heart toward the Queen, Robert.

No more! I am dead to love.

The gem that gleams on your finger
is a reminder and a pledge of royal love.

A pledge of love?
You have no idea....

Let this destroy your suspicion!

A thousand times I would die for you!

Robert, one final favor your Sarah asks of you.

Ask for my blood.
I would shed all of it for you, my beloved.

You must live and flee these shores.

Can I be hearing this?

I must be dreaming!

If you love me, you must leave me.


I cannot believe your heart has changed so.

I am now the man you hate!

You are pitiless!

I burn with love for you.

Since you returned, I have been tormented.

In my weak heart,
the fire that was never extinguished burns anew.

Ah, go! Depart! Leave me!
Yield to bitter fate.

Spare your own life,
and spare me my honor.

Where am I?
What madness!

I waver between life and death!

You love me, yet I must lose you!

You love me, yet I must leave!

–May the power of friendship lend me strength.
–Save your life. Spare my honor.

No mortal heart possesses such virtue.

No man could do this! No!

Dry your bitter tears.

I will escape.

Swear it!


–Friendship, give me strength.
–Leave me! Yield to a bitter fate!

–No man possesses such virtue.
–Save your life, save my honor!

–No mortal has such power.
–You must save yourself.

Spare me my honor!

Who could bear this?

Spare my honor!

No man has such virtue....

[ Applause ]

When will you escape?

When dark night once more
silently spreads its veil.

Now is not the time.
Dawn is breaking.

Such danger! Quickly!
Someone may see you!

Oh, cruel moment!

I have something for you,
one last pledge of love.

Place it here, on my wounded heart.

Go! Remember me in your prayers.


–Oh, what anguish!
–Oh, cruel destiny!


This final farewell is an abyss of torment.

My heart sheds more tears than my eyes.

Never to see you again! Never!
I feel myself dying!

Farewell! That one word
contains a lifetime of grief.

Farewell! That one word
contains a lifetime of grief.

[ Cheers and applause ]

The hours slowly pass.

Dawn has broken.

The council has not yet adjourned.

Without the Queen's help, his ruin is certain.

He's sure to meet his doom.

His end is nigh.

Silence, my lords. In her chamber
Elizabeth broods on her vengeance....

...wandering, trembling and alone,
not speaking a word.

Wretched Essex!

An angry heaven gathers dark clouds about you.

Your destiny is already sealed.

In this silence, death has spoken.

Death has the final word.

Your death warrant has been prepared.

In this silence, death has spoken!


The fate of the accused was debated at length.

More from friendship than from reason,
Nottingham defended him, but in vain.

He will hand you the sentence himself.

And it was?


The court may withdraw.
It will be recalled shortly.

Why did you delay so long?

Essex was not at his palace.
He did not return until dawn.


He was disarmed.
Searching his clothes for incriminating letters... men found a silk scarf close to his heart.

I ordered them to take it from him.

Burning with a foolish rage, he cried out:

"I would rather you tear out my heart!"

The Earl's resistance was futile.

And the scarf?

Here it is.

I am furious!

I can see that love's knots
are sewn into its threads!

Have him brought before me.

My breast is seething with rage!

Never have I come so forlorn
into your royal presence.

I must fulfill a tragic duty.

Here is Essex's sentence.

I speak not as your minister...

...but as his friend.

–Have mercy!

Could Elizabeth's heart deny it?

In this heart his death warrant is carved.

What words!

He visited the house of a secret rival.

She received him.

Yes, this very night he betrayed me.

What are you saying?
No, this is slander!

It is a trap laid by his enemies!

–This is slander!
–No more!

Believe me!

No, there is no doubt.

On this unfaithful man irrefutable proof was found.

What are you doing? Wait!

Listen to me!

Let not the lightning bolt of
your cruel vengeance strike him!

Spare him!
Spare him your terrible wrath.

If I may ask one favor
for all my faithful service...

...I ask for it in tears.
I beg you.

Silence! Pity or mercy?

No, that unfaithful man does not deserve them.

His betrayal is dreadful.
His guilt is certain.

Let him die without one tear,
without one plea for mercy.

Pardon him!

I will not listen!

–Majesty, I beg you!

Let not your cruel wrath fall upon him!

His treason is terrible.
His faithlessness is certain.

–Let him die! I will hear no plea!
–Grant me one favor for my loyalty!

–Do not dare to beg!
–Grant me one favor.

Dare not plead for mercy!

My tears beg you!

–No mercy!
–I throw myself at your feet.

[ Applause ]

The traitor himself!


Let me see your proud face.

What did I ask you?
Do you remember?

I asked, "Are you in love, my lord?"

"No," you answered, "No."



You are a liar!

Here is the silent accuser of your treachery.


Let the chill of death fill your false heart.

Lightning strikes!


At last you tremble!

Unfaithful soul, ungrateful heart!

You are now the captive of my rage!

Before a vengeful God
casts you into hell's flames...

...and before offending her who was born
to the great Henry the Eighth...

...better you descend alive
into your own grave, oh, traitor!

You dare not offend the daughter
of the great Henry the Eighth.

Descend into your own grave, traitor.

–My fate hangs by a thread!
–This cannot be true!

–I do not tremble for myself.
–A horrible dream.

–I fear for poor Sarah...
–No heart could bear such betrayal.

...Sarah, who is now in danger.

–How Nottingham glares at me.
–He grows so pale.

–In his eye is a bloodthirsty gleam.
–What a look he gave me!

–That scarf was a token, not of love but of death!
–His ashen look is proof of his hundred crimes!

Descend into your own grave!

Her scarf means death, not love.


His guilt is clear.

Walk into your grave, traitor!

His face betrays his crimes.

His guilt shows in his face.


–The scarf is my doom!
–His face betrays him.

[ Applause ]

Monster! Sinner!

How could you hide such deceit
in your ruthless heart?

How could you have so viciously
betrayed your Queen?

The tortures of hell!

Ah! My sword!

Let it pay back this coward for his treachery!

Let him fall dead at my feet!

A sword! A sword!

Loyal friend!

Even you rage at the offense done to me!

I am speaking.

Listen to me!

The axe has been sharpened.

What is the name of my rival?

Tell me and I swear you shall live.


The fatal moment!

I would rather die!

Stubborn man!
Death will be yours.

My Queen, I ask you for death.

This will be his end!

Listen, all of you.

The council of peers has delivered
this man's death sentence.

I shall sign it.

Let all know.

When the sun in its journey reaches noon...

...let a cannon shot be heard.

The axe will fall at that moment.

A sad day of death awaits.


Death is hanging over your head,
and dishonor over your name.

My anger prepares for you a cold grave
no weeping will be able to warm.

Not even your grave will be a refuge.

May the axe stained with my blood
not be stained with dishonor as well.

Death hangs over your head.

Your cruelty may take my life,
but it cannot take my reputation.

Essex will not die by my sword.

The axe awaits your neck.

Your name will be cursed.

You vile man!

Death hangs over your head.

Infamy awaits you at the block!

The torture of hell!

Death take you, body and soul!

–Your grave has been dug by my wrath!
–You cannot destroy my honor.

Not even your grave will be a refuge.

[ Applause ]

-At the end of the previous act,

Elizabeth has signed
Robert's death warrant,

enraged to learn she has a rival
for his affections.

Here now is the fiery conclusion
of "Roberto Devereux.

[ Applause ]

My husband has not yet returned.

Duchess! One of the royal guards... who fought at great Robert's side...

...has come bringing a letter,
imploring that it be placed in your hand.

Let him approach.

It is from Robert!

Oh, disgraceful deed!

The death warrant is signed! Still....

The ring is the sacred guarantee of his life.

Why am I delaying?
I must run to Elizabeth.

The Duke!

What a menacing look!

You have received a letter?

Oh, heavens!

Sarah! I want to see it.


Yes, husband!

I demand to see the letter!

(I am lost!)

You think you can keep the axe from his head?

He gave you a ring?


In the shadows of last night?

When you placed a token of love on his breast...

...a gold-stitched scarf?

Oh, dreadful, unexpected blow!

You know everything.

Yes, guilty woman!

Everything! Yes.

Remember that betrayed husbands
have an avenging God in heaven.

His terrible hand rips away the veil concealing sins.

Yes, whore, fear that avenging God in me!

Fear him!

Ah! Would you kill me?

Wait, faithless woman.

Robert still lives.

I felt in my heart a tender love for my friend.

I adored my wife as if she were
a creature from heaven.

For both of them, I would have given my life.

But who betrayed me?

How wretched I am.

My friend and my wife!

You fool! Weeping is useless.
I want blood, not tears.

Blood! Blood, not tears!

I want blood, not tears.

Can cruel destiny have such power over us?

Can an innocent man be made to appear guilty?

If you could look into my chaste heart... would see that Robert
is not a traitor but your friend.

Not with one thought, one heartbeat,
have I betrayed you.

I have not betrayed you!

What is that fatal sound outside?

They are leading him to the tower.

A mortal shiver courses through my veins!

The scaffold is ready.
The hour is near!

God help me!

Sinful woman! Stop!

Where are you running?

To the Queen.

Do you still hope to save him?

Let go of me!

You hope to save him?

Let me go!

You dare?

I must go!

Guard, make my house her prison!

Oh, heavens!

Have mercy!

In all my anguish, grant me one moment.

I swear I will not flee.
I will return at once.

Then you may stab me
a hundred times if you wish.

As I die at your feet you will hear me
bless the very hand that killed me.

My honor, stained by the two of you,
burns even more fiercely now.

Every word you speak,
every tear you shed is a lie!

It will be too brief a torture,
this death he deserves.

God! Punish for eternity
the guilty soul that betrayed me!

Your words are my death!

Listen to me.

Robert still lives.

Husband, have pity!

–I beg you!


My honor, wounded by the two of you,
burns even more fiercely now.

Though you both have wounded me,
my honor shall not be stained.

It will be too brief a torture, this death he deserves.

God! Punish for eternity
the guilty soul that betrayed me!

[ Applause ]

And still the dreaded doors do not open?

A fatal foreboding fills me with terror.

Yet I trust the courier I sent to her.
The ring is sure to save me.

I have seen death on the battlefield
and do not fear it.

I only desire to live so that
I may clear Sarah's reputation.

Nottingham, you robbed me
of the woman I love.

I would preserve my life for your sword.

It is you who must kill me.

To you I will say, sobbing in the arms of death:

Your wife is as chaste as an angel.

With my last breath,
I will tell you this angel is pure.

I swear it.
With my blood I swear it!

Believe the last words I will ever speak.

One about to die would never tell a lie.

One about to die would never tell a lie.

[ Cheering and applause ]

I hear a sound in this darkness.

[ Drums tattooing ]

At last the doors open.

My pardon has arrived!

Come, my lord.


To your death.

My death....

Now on this earth, poor woman,
you can no longer hope for mercy.

But you will not be abandoned.

A just God will hear me.

He will not abandon you.

With my breast bathed in tears
and stained with blood...

...I will turn to God and beg Him to help you.

The angels, moved by my plea,
will echo my grief.

For the first time,
there will be tears in heaven.

I will fly to God and plead for you!

For the first time,
there will be tears in heaven.

Come, prepare yourself for the cruelest death.

With my breast bathed in tears and blood...

...I will hasten to God
and beg Him to help you!

Moved to pity, the angels will echo my grief.

For the first time in heaven,
there will be weeping.

I will beg God to help you!

For the first time,
there will be tears in heaven.

For the first time,
there will be tears in heaven.

[ Applause ]

Could it be that even Sarah,
at this terrible moment, would desert me?

I sent Raleigh to her palace to fetch her.

Friendship has its comforts.
I have sore need of it now.

After all, I am only a woman.

The fire of my wrath has burned itself out.

The signs of suffering show on her face.

Oh, Sarah!

Her face no longer shines with majesty.

Let my hope not be in vain.

Now that he is close to death,
he will send the ring.

He will be penitent in my presence.

But there is not much time.
If only I could stop its course.

What if he chose death to be true to my rival?

Oh, deadly thought!

What if he is nearing the scaffold?

Cruel man! Stop!

Live, you ungrateful man, live next to her!

My heart forgives you.

Live, cruel man, and abandon me!

Abandon me to mourn forever.

To mourn forever.

I must hide my tears.

Let no one on earth ever say:

"I have seen the Queen of England weeping."

So live, ungrateful man, and leave me.

Leave me to sigh for eternity.

Abandon me to my tears.

Ungrateful man, abandon me to my tears.

[ Cheering and applause ]

What have you brought me?

The criminal is walking to his execution.

Heavens! To his execution?

Did he give you some token to hand the Queen?



Someone is coming!
Let us see....

It is the Duchess.

Where did you get this ring?

Look at you!
Such a pale face!

What suspicion I feel!

Could it be?


My terror tells all.

I am....

Say it!

Your rival.

Punish me, but save his life!

Hurry! At once!

Bring him back to me alive,
and I will give you my crown!

Heaven, your favor now smiles on him.

He is dead!

You wicked woman, you alone... pushed him into his grave!

Why did you wait so long to bring me the ring?

It was I, my Queen, I alone.
I, whose honor was betrayed.

I wanted blood, and blood I got.

Guilty soul!

Pitiless heart!

The horror of it all!

That spilled blood rises to heaven.

Justice demands its revenge.

Already the angel of death
hovers over the two of you.

Unaccountable suffering awaits you both.

Such a vile betrayal...

...such a heinous crime deserves no mercy.

In your last moments, turn to God.

Perhaps He may grant forgiveness.

Yes, throw yourself on God's mercy.

Only God could forgive you.

Be calm. Remember your royal duty.

Who rules lives not for herself.


I do not rule.

I do not live.

Leave me!


Look there! The executioner's block
dripping with blood.

Blood! The crown is bathed in blood!

A horrible ghost hastens through the palace.

It holds in its fist his severed head.

The heavens resound with screams and moans.

The light of day grows pale.

Where my throne was, a tomb rises.

Into it I will descend.
My grave is opening for me!

I will walk into it!

Be calm, Majesty!

Leave now.
It is my wish.

Over the English realm, let James be King.

James is King.

[ Cheering and applause ]

-Hey, hey.

-Don't you look beautiful?
-Oh my gosh, that was absolutely

amazing, and congratulations on

your 200th
Met performance today.

-Ah, how did that happen?
-I know, right? Flies by.

Well, that was awfully intense.

So, this role is famous for
being almost impossible to sing.

What makes it so hard?

[ Laughs ]
Where does one start?

You know, vocally it's --
it's just so intense,

and she has to sing angry
90 percent of the evening,

and that's really difficult,

because it takes
a lot of energy,

and a lot of strength.

And it's also a lot of what we
call temperature chart singing.

You have to go really high,
really low, really high --

and very fast in between.

-Well, and I noticed that you're
playing the Queen

with a bit of a --
a lurching sort of gait.

What's that about?
-Well, you know, listen,

she was at the end of her life.

This opera is about the end of
her life.

This is about the last hope
in her life,

and how she loses it.

And so we see her
just desperate.

And you know, she did have
hip problems,

but it makes that also
more complex,

having that limp,
having these costumes

that are not quite so light.

-Not the most comfortable things
in the world.

Well, this season has been quite
a journey for you,

and for your fans here
at the Met.

Three different
Donizetti Queens.

First, Anne Boleyn,
in "Anna Bolena."

-Then Mary, Queen of Scots

in "Maria Stuarda." Which --
which role is your favorite?

-You know, if you had asked me
during "Anna Bolena,"

I would have said Anna Bolena.

If you asked me during
"Maria Stuarda,"

I would have said Maria Stuarda.
But after having done all three,

for sure this one.

Because of the complete package
of the acting --

-Yeah, you know, the music is so
intense, and so tight, too.

Every scene, it's like there's
not one note

that shouldn't be there.

It's just magic.
-Well, and it's particularly

daunting to play women like
these who are not only

historical figures, but have
been represented in

so many movies, and plays,
and so on.

-Absolutely. And you know,
we know so much about her.

So, one has to do justice
to that,

but then put my own take
and Sir David McVicar's own take

on it as well, and sing.
-Oh, that.

That minor thing.
Well, I know that these

dramatic bel canto roles
were not really

where you thought your voice
would go, originally --

-No, no.
-Or where your career

would be headed, but now that
you've conquered them,

do you think that they will stay
a part of your repertory?

-Absolutely. I have contracts
for these, gosh,

for probably the next five or
six years for sure.

But --
I know, I know, I know.

[ Laughs ]

Oh, what we were you thinking?

-Now that I signed them,

but intermixed with all that,
I still have my "Ballo,"

and I still have my "Tosca."

You know, just to --
-And who would think that those

would be light evenings
in the theatre.

-Oh you know, I sing
"Tosca" after this,

and I'm saying, "Oh, my gosh,
I'm looking forward to it

because it's an easy evening,"

-Well, Sondra, congratulations.
Really, wonderful.

-Thank you so much.
-Now I'm going to speak with

the tenor who sings the title
role, Matthew Polenzani.

Matthew has become heralded for
his beautiful bel canto style.

Hello, Matthew.
-Hi, Debbie, how are you?

-I'm very well, thank you.

-And you sound fantastic,
so you know that you're well.

-Thank you, dear.
-Everyone else in this opera

seems pretty clear about what
they want, but not Devereux.

What's your take on
the conflicted character

at the center of this opera?

-Well, he's got a problem,

because he needs the Queen
for the throne.

He needs Sara as his beloved,

he needs his dearest friend,

for his companionship.

And so he's got
a little problem.

And he kind of --
he's trying to juggle all three,

and it, and obviously,
it doesn't, it doesn't work out

for any of them.
-Doesn't go his way.

-Well, vocally, how would you

compare the role of
Roberto Devereux with the other

Donizetti and bel canto roles
that you've sung?

-Uh, well, he's a little more
like, I would say,

he's a little more like Edgardo,
at least, for me,

and not so much like Pasquale,
or "Elixir."

And thankfully not as
high as Leicester.

Leicester is just,
was always a brute,

and nobody understands how hard
it is,

and you just have to go out
and do it,

and hope that it comes out okay.

-Well, if you didn't do it
so well,

we wouldn't think it was as easy
as you make it look like it is.

-Right, right.
-This opera has so many

dramatic confrontations that are
expressed in

fierce, musical sing-offs.

-Is there a certain degree of
friendly competition

that happens among the cast?
-No, I wouldn't say so.

I mean, we're, well, you know,
I'm a little different

from a lot of people. I mean,
like holding a high note longer

than your, than your partner,
whatever, I mean, like,

I always try to make sure that
I'm going down

at the exact same moment
as my soprano, count,

or, mezzo in this case, too.

I mean, both of us, you know,
I just want it to be --

I want it to be, you know,
collegial, but also like, fun,

you know? And I don't want
somebody to think,

"Oh, the tenor, why do you have
to hold it longer,

half-second longer than me?"
You know, I think like --

-And you don't want them holding
it longer than you do.

-That's exactly right.
-When you get right down to it.

-That's right.
-So, tell us a little bit about

working, uh, with director
David McVicar

on your interpretation, and the
conception of this piece.

-Man, I mean,
he was so fabulous,

and so quick and concise with,

"All right, what am I thinking
here? I don't understand."

Especially with this guy,
who's really, you said,

at the top,
he's really conflicted,

and how to
deal with these emotions.

Like, he's with Nottingham.

And he loves him so dearly,
but he's in love with his wife.

I mean, all these things.

He's really quick to help you

what's going on in his head.

And when you're doing
something great,

he's quick to say, "Yes, that's
exactly what I'm looking for,"

or if it's not right,
then he's quick to say,

"No, here's what I think."

You know, and, and he's really
good that way.

And he lets us work, too.

I mean, we did a lot of stuff
just working

and flowing inside of a moment
you know,

and he's great with that stuff.

I really, really loved him
for that.

-Sounds like
a fantastic experience.

-We're looking forward to seeing

you in the title role of
Mozart's "Idomeneo" next season.

What excites you the most about
that opera?

-Uh, well, I mean, I love his
music, and, there's something,

there's something special about
that guy who's dealing with

something so difficult,
this whole problem of

what do you do about your son,

how do you figure out
how to get --

get to the end with him,
and still keep him alive,

but keep your people alive,
and keep your own life?

I mean, I don't know, it's a,
it's a great part

with great music. I'm really
looking forward to it.

-Well, we look forward to
hearing you sing it.

-Yeah, thanks.
-Matthew, thank you so much

for speaking with me --
-Wait, I want to give a quick

shout-out to my parents,
who are in --

my parents who are
in Evanston, Illinois.

So all the rest of you people,
look around,

and figure out
who my parents are.

And also to my son's
third grade teacher,

who's watching
her first opera today.

I hope you're enjoying yourself.
Okay, thank you.

Thanks, Debbie.
-All right, get back to work.

All right.

-I'm joined now by Elina Garanca
and Mariusz Kwiecien,

the other half of today's
extraordinary quartet.


-With all the vocal fireworks

these Tudor characters seem to
be practically engaged in

bel canto combat onstage,

is that part of the appeal of
singing these roles?

-Probably, yes. Because I think
bel canto has a bad rep

of being very boring,
and I think you particularly

need to --
-I was going to ask you

about that, yeah.
-Exactly. I think you

particularly need to make it
understandable and exciting.

-And I think because the singing

is very often so hard,

you really have to be in
a good fitness.

I mean, to fight this guy now
in the scene that's coming up,

I need really to have
a good condition for that.

-Oh, you have no problem,

-Well, I know that you have
a blazing duet coming up.

Can you tell us about that
confrontation, Mariusz?

-Well, uh, I am the poor guy in
this duet,

because, uh, I am abused by
my friend and by my wife.

-Excuse me.
-Yes, I am. I am.

And I'm just seeing my wife.

I'm a little drunk,
and I'm seeing my wife,

and just, I want her to explain
what's going on.

And actually, we finish this
duet when I'm telling her that

I'm sending Roberto to death,

and she's really devastated
after this.

-Well, you both seem to mix
bel canto with a variety of

other styles in your repertory.

Do you find that singing
bel canto on a regular basis

helps keeps your voice in shape,

and helps you with other
composers as well?

-It gives me a certain
flexibility, actually,

a certain, uh, stretch, because
it's very, very, high,

very often,
for the mezzo soprano.

I mean, I don't remember last
time I've sang so many

high notes in such a short time.

So, when you go into lower
register, or more kind of,

uh, stretched out parts,
coming back to this one

is really a vocal diet.
I call it the vocal diet.

-Well, I know that you need to,
uh, we need to let you go

and get in position
for the next act.

Thank you so much
for speaking to me.

-Thank you,
I just want to say --

[ Speaking Latvian ]

Thank you very much for

-All right, get to stage,
get to stage.


-One of the things that I found
so striking about

"Roberto Devereux" is not just
that the four of you

are such great singers,
but what amazing chemistry

you all seem to have as well.

Did that happen naturally?

-Yes, I think, uh,
Matthew Polenzani, Elina,

Sondra Radvanovsky, we are more
or less in the same age,

we like each other, we've sang
together many, many times,

not only here at the Met,
but also in other places.

We respect each other,
and we have fantastic roles,

all of us, so we are not
jealous, one of another,

that somebody has better role.
-Good point, that's true.

-We have all great roles.
-Well, you and Matthew have sung

numerous roles together,
so it must feel like

a bit of a homecoming, to have
a chance to sing with him again.

-Yes, I hope it will happen more
and more in the future.

Yes, we've sung many things
with Matthew,

especially here at the Met,
many things with Jimmy Levine,

and I'm so blessed to have
colleagues like that on stage.

-You are indeed, Mariusz,
thank you.

In recent years, the Met has
strengthened its connection

to the world of contemporary
visual arts,

with some of today's top artists

creating work inspired by
Met productions.

Most recently, artist
Genieve Figgis

took "Roberto Devereux" as
the jumping off point

for a whimsical new
animated exploration

of Queen Elizabeth I.

And it features the voice of
our star, Sondra Radvanovsky.

Let's have a look.


[ Radvanovsky singing
in Italian ]