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Verdi - Don Carlos [Import]

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Product Details

  • Actors: Alastair Miles, Ramón Vargas, Bo Skovhus, Simon Yang, Dan Paul Dumitrescu
  • Directors: Anton Reitzenstein
  • Writers: Camille du Locle, François Joseph Méry, Friedrich Schiller
  • Format: AC-3, Classical, Digital Sound, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen, Import
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: German, English, French, Italian, Spanish
  • Region: All RegionsAll Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: TDK
  • Release Date: Oct. 30 2007
  • Run Time: 180 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • ASIN: B000VKW6Q0
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2.5 out of 5 stars 10 reviews
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not only another Don Carlo... is OTHER Don Carlo Feb. 23 2008
By Felipe A. Escalante Razo - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Don Carlo is an opera that have a lot of different versions, also in italian and in the original french.
Can't compare this version with another one because there's no one more with the original complete music presented in the premier.
The versions before the Abbado's in the early 80's were in four acts and italian lyrics. Since the resurrection of the five acts a lot of versions are presented... like a lot times Verdi's review his work.
Miles is not the best Phillip II... wonder why not do a more dramatic acting. Skovhus is a remarkable acting Posa, but his voice is not the dark that matches perfectly with the role, but... his colleagues are so lyrical too.
Tamar and Michael are a perfect couple fighting for Carlo's love. Their voices matches well between them and with Vargas'. Only good things to say about them.
Vargas is on the dramatic limit of his voice. He is more lyric, more romantic tenor, nevertheless, his technique gives us a good Carlo, with perfect diction and a marvelous color.
Despite other reviews, I think there's no one to compare.
The Chatelet one is more brilliant, more colorful, yes, with van Dam, Alagna and Mattila in their best.
The italian version with Lloyd and Villazon have voices that matches better with the roles, it's true.
But the other works have... other music...
Can hear the difference between versions in the openning phrases and music of the Posa-Carlos duet in the beginning of second act. The same duet? No, is other duet.
Think this version needs time... give it and enjoy listening...
The scene (maybe I must to say "the walls" instead "scene", because it doesn't exist) is the bad point... very bad, but the music make the job.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Verdi with controversy but with depth Feb. 10 2008
By Richard - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A very powerful performance this. It uses every note Verdi originally wrote for the Paris production including the ballet music. It is a very good performance with Skovhus and Miles standing out from a fine cast. There are better performances on the other DVDs but this one can pass the test and it has other virtues going for it.
The controversy lies as it does in the regie production. Konvitchny may be controvesial but I 've found if you hear him out he not only makes sense but offers keen insights into the piece. His direction offers depth of character as few productions do. As to the scenery the Fontainblue act is played fairly realistically and with a real dash of color which disappears when Elisabeth is stripped and fitted with the black which is the only color in the Spanish court. As the act ends a three walled box descends from above obliterating the starry sky. The rest of the opera will be played within this white prison until the final moments offer a way out for Carlos and Elisabeth.
There are touches where you are shocked such as Carlos and Rodrigo crawling around on the floor as they pledge loyalty to one another until you realize they are renewing their childhood friendship. The most controversial events occur in the 3rd act. Konvitchny replaces the ballet by Eboli's dream of life with Carlos - set in a 60s iiving room. It is the only color since the first act - the only escape from the stiffling court. If you decide to do the ballet in a production such as this what are you to do? Tutus just wouldn't do. I think he makes a case for his idea.
Then Konvitchny tranfers the Auto da Fe to the theater itself. A TV announcer gives commentary from the lobby as the royal family and the grand inquisitor take their seats. This audacity elicts both applause and loud boos from the audience. But is it out of place? The first time I heard Don Carlo I wondered what this scene had to do with the rest of the opera. Would Verdi have written it were it not de rigeur for a Grand Opera? Only about 10 minutes concerns the overall plot. The rest is superfluous. Why not make a statement showing how we are still complicitous in murder? Certainly makes sense to this American at this time. Finally there is the matter of the ending. Verdi himself never found a satisfactory solution. Every other production I've seen just sputters out. I won't give away Konvitchny's solution, but it delivers a tremendous wallop. Is this a traditional comfy production? Not on your life. But does it give insight into these suffering people: wondrously human characters caught in a system in which even Philip and the Grand Inquisitor are victims? Indeed it does.
3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Complete Don June 15 2008
By DDD - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A history of a French Don Carlos mirrors the failure of France to provide singers whose career is based on that language. The DVD under consideration reflects that deterioration in that not one singer can claim it as their first language. The Don is Mexican, Posa a Dane, Elizabeth a Georgian, Philip an Englishman,Eboli, a German. As a result we really don't anything resembling French production although Vargas, Miles and Skovhus are better at it than Tamar and Michael. Tamar, howeve, has a beautiful lyrico spinto voice and Michael are somewhat careless. Even with these criticisms I am thrilled that it is a complete text and unlikely to be challenged in the next few years.

What can be challenged and should be is the Konswitschy staging. It is not as grotesque as his Lohengrin but it is not worthy of this opera. I have no objection to minimalism or updating as such in many recent Regie productions, but to reduce this opera to essentially three walls,against which the action is played makes no sense. The ballet and the Auto-da-fe are silly in concept; the ballet can be omitted but not the latter which contains essential dramatic elements. But to stage it as he has is truly unfortunate treating it as a telecast coming from the opera house!

Fortunately there is enough good singing that compensates for much of the non-production. Vargas is clearly at the limits of his talent with this role. (Apparently Villazon in a current ROH production has unwisely chosen the role as his return to the stage;the reviews have not been good)Vargas' French is as good as Domingos' and although he is not the actor that Alagna is he is clearly involved and committed which go for a lot in my book. Iano Tamar apparently restricts her career to Europe; a pity since she is a genuine spinto--at least in the smaller houses of Europe. The voice is beautiful and she uses it musically. This is probably the only French role she sings and it shows in her cavalier treatment of the text. Skovhus, a lyric baritone, has wisely restricted his career (for the most part)to Europe. Although he sang Kurvenal it was at Glyndebourn, a 1000 seat house. Perhaps in time he may be a Verdi baritone, but I doubt it. Miles sings Philip beautifully, but he does not have the charisma of a Christoff or Ghiaurov. I think that the production is partly to blame, that and his "Englishness". Michael's Eboli is better than Meier's but it still isn't the right kind of voice. She is now singing Salome at ROH, but it is difficult to hear that role in her voice.

There exists a CD version of the opera, but I have reached a stage in my life when I am now opting for a DVD--even in cases when no DVD can mesure up what is available on CD (I refer principally to the great recording from Bayreuth emanating in the fifties). A ticket to the opera is very expensive--at least for a decent seat and for a much smaller investment I am able to see operas that can be made available in my living room. They repay watching in a way a CD can't.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stupid Staging of Verdi's Great Opera April 28 2008
By J. Shaver - Published on
Format: DVD
The French Don Carlos (rather than the Italian Don Carlo) is one of my favorite operas and one of Verdi's greatest. Unfortunately, although this version is well sung, it is a horror visually. One can see the details of this silly production from the other reviews. In their first scene together Carlos and Elisabeth play pick-up-sticks. In the following scene Carlos and Posa crawl around on all fours and behave like drunken fraternity brothers. But the unsurpassed horror is converting the ballet into a cozy scene where Eboli cooks a chicken and has the folks to dinner. It's called Eboli's dream in this produciton--though nightmare is more like it. (At this point I decided just to listen and not watch. I recommend this to all from the beginning.)
One wonders why opera companies trust so many of their productions not just to staging directors with no talent but to blithering idiots. Surely someone in the company should know better.
Watch the Paris opera version. That's Don Carlos. This is not.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hits and misses Jan. 18 2011
By harmless drudge - Published on
Format: DVD
As the range of evaluations indicate, this performance of Don Carlos is by no means a "safe choice." I ended up giving it a middle of the road rating, not because it is an "average" production but because my reactions swung violently from derision to delight and back again as I watched it. Because other reviews go into some detail, I'm going to make my comments relatively brief. Cutting to the chase, there are a couple of advantages to this production: 1. It is the complete French version (at least for the moment). As such, it contains additional material in several scenes (most interesting for me was the closing of the opera), ballet music, and, of course, the full Act 1 (omitted in the once ubiquitous four act Italian version). 2. The auto de fe scene was a masterstroke -- what's that? Can that be the same scene that many of the other reviewers have decried as a travesty? Absolutely. Moving this scene to modern dress and playing it in the context of a "strong man" (king, dictator) entering the theater with entourage points out (crudely I admit) the relevance of the political struggle in Don Carlos to modern times and literally pulls the viewer and real audience into the drama. (The look of bemusement on the faces of some of the audience members was a treat in itself.) (Of course, this coup de theatre also generated some problems of continuity as the characters reverted to period costumes later in the opera.) 3. The singers were well involved in their roles and generally put on a good show (alas, less so for their voices). Now for the considerable disadvantages: 1. At the risk of sounding like the old crab that I am, the singers were adequate, not superlative. The Don Carlos has an attractive voice but he is more of a lyric tenor caught in a role that requires a larger voice. Posa also lacked the richness and power that Verdi requires in this role. Moreover, he was handicapped by his wardrobe, ponytail, and glasses (the wardrobe director should be required to wear his/her costumes in public as penance) Philip does not have the heft for the role (gee, there's a constant refrain here); although Miles presents a believable (if totally wrong) character, I miss the power and malevolence that a Christoff or a Lloyd brought to this role. The women fare better. 2. The ballet -- Eboli's dream of life with Carlos transported to modern times. Well, this has been trashed enough by other reviewers. Actually, I kind of enjoyed it; got a few belly laughs. But it had no artistic merit other than humor, and if that was the intent, I would have preferred some pie throwing as well. 3. The director completely blew it with the character of Philip. He has Miles play the king as a weak, vacillating monarch. That makes his character too close to Don Carlos and completely ruins the magnificent confrontation between the king and the Grand Inquisitor -- that scene is meant to be a clash of the titans -- secular vs. religious authority. But it comes off as a one sided thrashing of a quisling monarch. 4. The scenery -- as others have pointed out, most of the opera takes place within three claustrophobic (perhaps padded?) walls that presumably represent the stifling effect of the Spanish court. Characters enter and exit through multiple doors in the walls. I found this to be the worst part of the entire production because it resulted in a visual monotony that lasted throughout most of the production.
All in all, then, this is a decidedly mixed bag. For fans of the opera, I recommend that you view this production, if possible, before deciding whether to purchase it. It is complete and it is thought provoking (e.g., having characters in scenes that they are not normally in --such as Eboli with the king and the grand inquisitor), but it is a very uneven production both vocally and visually.