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Verdi: Don Carlo (Levine/Domingo) [Import]
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Don Carlo is one of the grandest of all grand operas, a tour-de-force that challenges the resources of even the greatest theaters. The Met has accepted and responded to these challenges in magnificent fashion. Don Carlo is a complex, multi-layered work. Private passions are played out against a backdrop of intense political strivings. Placido Domingo leads the extraordinary cast gathered for this performance.
The Metropolitan Opera: Composer: Guiseppe Verdi Conductor: James Levine Tenor: Placido Domingo
"...an opera of devastating effectiveness." - The New York Times
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His Elisabetta is the radiant Mirella Freni. I too would have preferred a larger voice like Caballe's but Freni is nevertheless convincing as the sad Queen. She is particularly effective in the duets. The mature Domingo is seen and heard here in one of his greatest roles. The role of Don Carlos suits him like a glove. Expressiveness, vigour and commitment are only few of his virtues. Quilico's hollow and covered French baritone is unsuitable for Verdi. He also looks funny! However, I admit that he impressed me in Rodrigo's death scene.
Almost 20 years after her studio recording, Bumbry remains a fiery Eboli. Her singing gets better and better as the evening goes on. In O don fatale she is spine thrilling! Furlanetto makes a noble Inquisitor though his instrument pales in comparison to Ghiaurov's. Minor roles are well cast. Levine is here fortunately less grandiloquent than in his studio recording some years later.
Scenery and costumes are as grand as one could ask for and the entire performance wonderfully serves Verdi's most fascinating and imposing opera!
The good aspects:
1. This is an Italian, full five-act version that even includes the peasant chorus at the very beginning. The first act (Carlo and Elizabeth in Fontainebleau) is very essential to the opera; it is full of beautiful music, character development, and it provides the only remotely happy moment in the three and a half hours this opera lasts.
2. Placido Domingo as Carlo. Placido Domingo is THE Carlo.
3. Mirella Freni as Elizabetta. Her performance of Elizabetta is good, though not as good as Montserrat Caballe as Elizabetta.
4. Ferruccio Furlanetto as the Grand Inquisitor. His appearance and his voice are both chilling in this performance.
The bad aspects:
1. James Levine takes several parts of the opera way too fast. For example, he seems to rush through Rodrigo and Carlo's oath of friendship in Act II.
2. Louis Quilico as Rodrigo. Louis Quilico should be replaced by Sherrill Milnes. Quilico just seems to breeze through Rodrigo's lines, and his acting abilities leaves a lot to be desired. For example, Rodrigo's outburst act the end of Act II, "Orrenda, orrenda pace! La pace de sepolchri!" should sting. But Quilico manages to make it sound very bland.
3. Grace Bumbry as Eboli. Her singing is a bit sharp, and after hearing Shirley Verrett as Eboli, Bumbry seems rather inadequate as the vengeful, vicious princess.
4. Betsy Norden as Tebaldo. Delia Wallis makes such a better Tebaldo. This soprano's voice is much too small for an opera of this scope.
My recommendation? You might want to think about this performance, but definitely go for the Giulini version with Domingo, Caballe, Raimondi, Verrett, and Milnes.
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