Verdi's Don Carlo is a masterpiece, as heard in its revised four-act rendition in Italian. Granted, it may be a flawed masterpiece, but it is a masterpiece nonetheless. The original version in French – Don Carlos – premièred in Paris in 1867 and ran over four hours, and must be, in the end, judged a less successful opera. It is, thankfully, the revised version that we have here from Opus Arte, and it fully captures the profundity and emotional character of the opera, its theme of struggle by the son against the father, of freedom against traditional faith.
Don Carlo is a dark opera, as Verdi mavens are aware, perhaps as dark as Simon Boccanegra. But it is primarily a deep psychological (and religious) drama, whose passions and sense of tragedy Verdi handles with a deft hand. The cast here is strong, with Rolando Villazón probably the finest in the crew, even if he is overly grim-faced in so many scenes. Most of the rest of the singers are fine as well, with Jaakko Ryhänen as the Grand Inquisitor most effective. Amanda Roocroft as Elisabetta can sound screechy at times, but is nevertheless an overall plus here.
The sound is vivid and the stage direction by Willy Decker brilliant and atmospheric. Chailly oversees the proceedings with an insightful eye and the sound provided by Opus Arte is vivid and nearly ideal. Verdi mavens and lovers of opera in general will surely want this fine recording. Highly recommended!
Copyright © 2005, Robert Cummings