This is a scorching account of one of Donozetti's best "royal" operas, given live, in concert at (appropriately) The Royal Opera House Covent Garden.
For those who don't know the opera, it is a full-blooded and vivid invention around the story of Queen Elizabeth Ist's possible relationship with Robert Devereux - whom she had executed for treason at the Tower Of London. Full of great tunes, thrilling arias, duets choruses, and ending with a dark and unusual mad scene (with a slow and powerful cabaletta) it's a great listen and a major challange to singers.
Jose Bros as Roberto has a good strong voice, not too light and yet still flexible in the florid music, and the Sara is the rather wonderful Ganassi, who provides rich vibrant Italianate singing. All the rest of cast are fine, and towering over all is Queen Elisabetta I - the Magnificent Nelly Miricioiu. Although she experienced some vocal problems around this time, here she sounds in particularly good voice, and interpretively she is also in full command.
I far prefer Miricioiu's richer voice and less ambitious decorations - compared to Sills or even Gruberova. This is so much more of a dramatic opera than a "see what I can do" approach suggests. Miricioiu, as usual, sings with utmost integrity and serves the music.
There is some applause, but I don't find it intrusive. Chorus, Orchestra, conductor all splendid. The recording (and performance) has real theatrical presence. Fullsome notes in a lavish booklet.
This royal set will reign over the others for a long time I think