The Earl of Essex, Robert Devereux, is hot-blooded and jealous of anyone who might win the Queen's favour. He provokes a fight with the tournament victor, Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, but then the Queen and her entourage arrive. She orders the two men to make up, but later she discusses the rivalry of Mountjoy and Essex with her chief adviser, Sir Robert Cecil. She admires Essex, but Cecil warns her of the political dangers of showing affection for him. He also reports that a new Armada may be on the way. Essex comes in and requests permission to go to Ireland to suppress the Tyrone rebellion. He accuses Cecil and Sir Walter Raleigh of intriguing against him. The Queen resists and sends him away. Essex complains to his wife Frances about the way Elizabeth thwarts his desire to go to Ireland. Lady Essex gives a ball at which she dresses extravagantly and looks finer than her queen, but when the ladies return from changing their dresses after a dance, Lady Essex says that her dress ...
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Commissioned by the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden), and "dedicated by gracious permission to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in honour of whose coronation it was composed." It is set in the later years of Elizabeth I's reign. The libretto is heterogeneous, combining prose and verse, archaic and modern English. See more