Posted February 17, 2012

It was reported in the publication Opera that the Royal Opera House will present Meyerbeer’s rarely performed 1831 grand opera Robert le diable in the 2012-2013 season.   The opera will star soprano Diana Damrau and rising tenor star Bryan Hymel.

Robert le diable was considered by many to the first “grand opera”, although Auber’s La muette di Portici came before Robert.  Grand operas were very long and included elaborate ballets, massive sets, stunning stage effects, and a large cast of singers able to meet the demands of the challenging scores.  Grand opera was and still very expensive to produce.  With the premiere of Robert le diable Meyerbeer became a superstar.  The public loved these opera spectacles and Meyerbeer went on to compose several more. The genre also includes Myerbeer’s other late operas L’Africaine, Les Huguenots, Le prophete, Dionorah and also the operas La Juive by Halevy, Guillaume Tell by Rossini, Don Carlos by Verdi and even Wagner’s Rienzi, to name a few.  Grand opera fell out of fashion in the 20th Century.

The most recent production of Robert le diable was in 2000 at the Berlin State Opera and featured Marina Mescheriakova, Nelly Mircioiu, Kwagnchul Youn and was conducted by Mark Minkowski.

As Wagnerians, we all know about Wagner’s days in Paris, his desire to achieve fame and recognition in Paris and ultimately, his distaste for Meyerbeer.  Wagner’s operas are frequently performed all over the world and Meyerbeer is virtually unknown.  

He who laughs last . . . .