Robert le diable (‘Robert the Devil’)
- Steven Huebner
(‘Robert the Devil’)
Grand opérain five acts by Giacomo Meyerbeer to a libretto by Eugène Scribe and Germain Delavigne; Paris, Opéra, 21 November 1831.
Meyerbeer first turned his attention to an operatic project centred on a half-demonic figure from Norman legend, Robert ‘le diable’, at the end of 1826 or the beginning of 1827. The director of the Opéra-Comique, Guilbert de Pixérécourt, soon agreed to produce the work and by June 1827 Meyerbeer could report to him that the score was ‘well advanced’. The libretto by Scribe and Delavigne had very little to do with a widely disseminated medieval mystery play in which Robert leads a life of debauchery and crime but then, Tannhäuser-like, journeys to Rome to seek papal absolution and subsequently heads an important assault of the forces of Christendom against the Infidel. It did, however, respond to the obvious taste of Opéra-Comique audiences for the supernatural evinced by the recent success of Boieldieu’s ...