Edita Gruberova, born to a Hungarian mother and an Austrian father in Bratislava (and therefore a Slovak citizen) has been a celebrated soprano star for almost 50 years. Her exceptional career has brought about the renaissance of bel canto style and as a result of her invitations to the Opera in the past years she is always welcomed with passionate affection in Hungary.This year she and her companions will be performing Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux, which will be in the programme of the Opera for the first time.
Roberto Devereux, the earl of Essex and a favourite of Queen Elisabetta of England, has been accused of treason. At first ready to come to his defence, the queen senses that the earl's heart now belongs to another and instead decides not interfere in the course of justice. The truth is that Devereux has always secretly been in love with Sara, but in his absence, Elisabetta forced the girl to marry the duke of Nottingham. A friend of Devereux's, the duke suspects nothing of this illicit love and wishes to clear the earl's name of the charge. Devereux meets with Sara in private and asks her to run away with him. Sara, however, refuses. They exchange tokens of their love: Devereux gives Sara the ring he received from the queen, while she presents him with a blue shawl. The earl is arrested, and when the shawl is found on him, the duke of Nottingham realises who it was that Devereux was in love with. Queen Elisabetta condemns Devereux to death, with the execution set for the following morning. Although her husband attempts to stop her, Sara rushes to Elisabeth with the queen's ring in a bid for clemency. She admits to her that she was the queen's rival. The queen orders a stay of execution, but it is too late: cannon shots signal that Roberto Devereux has been beheaded.