Conducted by Bernard Haitink           Revival staged by Christopher Renshaw

In the cast: Luis Lima (Don Carlo) Ileana Cotrubas (Elisabetta) Bruna Baglioni (Princess Eboli)

Robert Lloyd (Philip II) Giorgio Zancanaro (Rodrigo) Joseph Rouleau (Grand Inquisitor)


Verdi’s Don Carlos, a five-act grand opera composed by Giuseppe Verdi to a libretto by Joseph Méry and Camille du Locle was commissioned by the Théâtre Impérial de l’Opéra, where it had its premiere in 1867.

The opera is based on Don Carlos, Infant von Spanien, a play by Friedrich Schiller and partially on Philippe II, Roi d’Espagne, another play by Eugène Cormon.

Sometimes performed in Italian as in here, under the title Don Carlo, Verdi’s opera has often been subjected to massive cuts to reduce its running time – here given at three hours, twenty four minutes.

In the 1985 video of the 1958 Royal Opera production the 1985 six principals are beyond reproach.

Romanian lyric soprano Ileana Cotrubas portrays a regal and yet vulnerable Elisabetta at her best in her scenes with Luis Lima’s Don Carlo. Fresh voiced and elegant of demeanor, Cotrubas acquits herself quite well through intelligence and solid technique in the demanding role of Elisabetta.

Bruna Baglioni sings the role of Princess Eboli, with a very easy top that she displays in her first entrance’s Canzone del velo. In the trio in the garden scene Baglioni pulls all the spots, delivering fierce singing and riveting acting in equal measures. It is in the crucially important O don fatale that Baglioni that this lesser-known singer establishes her big leagues credentials and in so doing brings down the house.

Argentinian tenor Luis Lima as Carlo, then in his vocal prime reminds one of his always fine singing and honest acting.

Giorgio Zancanaro as Rodrigo is very good in a role often taken by lighter-voiced baritones. With his height and noble bearing the Italian baritone provides an older-brother figure that perfectly matches Lima’s Carlo dramatically. Zancanaro sings his farewell to Carlo with seamless legato and perfect sensitivity.

English bass Robert Lloyd is perfect as King Phillip: authoritative to others, tormented within himself, splendid of voice, a singing actor through and through.

Joseph Rouleau’s well-acted Grand Inquisitor is more bass-baritone than the basso profundo to which we have been accustomed.

Bernard Haitink leads soloists, orchestra, and chorus with a firm command of the style in this fine revival of Luchino Visconti’s handsome 1958 production.

Rafael de Acha © 2022

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