Don Carlo, the historical opera available in VOD on medici.tv
Verdi’s Don Carlo in four acts is now available on medici.tv. An occasion to go back on the piece’s complex history.
The adaptation of Friedrich Schiller’s play by librettists Camille du Locle and Francois Joseph Méry, Don Carlo was premiered on March, 11, 1867 in Paris, in its five acts version and in French. Although the opera was conceived in French by Verdi, it is the Italian version which was successful and recognized. The Italian score was translated by Achille de Lauzières and published in 1869.
Very soon, the composer goes back to Don Carlo in order to work on the length of this “Grand opera”. In the 1867 Parisian version, Verdi adds the ballet “La Peregrina” to act III and compensates these additional 15 minutes of music by cutting out sections form act I.
The Milanese version 1884 omits the ballet and the whole first act, the original French libretto is modified and translated to Italian again. In 1886 in Modena, a performance included the original first act and mixed arias from the Parisian version and from the Milanese version. (Version available on medici.tv)
There is no agreement on which is the final score among the different versions and languages. The choice mainly determines how the story is presented. In the first original act, Don Carlo starts with the meeting of Don Carlo and his fiancée Elizabeth of Valois, who immediately fall in love in the Fontainebleau forest. In the version available on medici.tv and directed for stage by Nicholas Hytner, Spanish colors and treasures from the “Siglo de Oro” shine on the stage. The action unfolds during a period of important political unrest during which Carlos V’s empire decay. His son and successor, Filippo II incarnates the tyrannical and lonely king, as it is expressed in the profound “Elle giammai m’amò !…” in the beginning of act IV.
In the 1884 version, recently published on medici.tv, the action starts in the middle of the conflict opposing the infante Don Carlo and his father Filippo II who decided to marry Elizabeth himself. In this production, Willy Decker’s stage direction emphasizes the tragic destiny of all the characters thanks to an impressive crucifix which slowly goes down and overlooks the stage during the whole opera. The marble setting representing the Pantheon of the Kings of the royal palace El Escorial and the music, one of “the darkest ever written” according to Riccardo Chailly, reflect the feelings and dilemmas in which the characters are caught.
Don Carlo an opera by Giuseppe Verdi
Revised version in four acts.
Rolando Villazón(Don Carlo)
Robert Lloyd (Filippo II)
Dwayne Croft (Rodrigo)
Jaakko Ryhänen (Il grande inquisitore)
Amanda Roocroft (Elizabeth of Valois)
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
It’s your turn to compare!
- Watch the Modena version, performed in Covent Garden and directed for stage by Nicholas Hytner
- Watch the Milanese version performed at the Nederlandse Opera and directed for stage by Willy Decker
- Watch the behind the scenes of the production at the Nederlandse Opera, featuring interviews of Willy Decker, Riccardo Chailly and Rolando Villazón