Highlights and Shadows Abound in This Don Carlo

SpainSpain Verdi, Don Carlo: Comunitat Valenciana Orchestra and Chorus / Ramón Tebar (conductor), Palau de Les Arts, Valencia, 21.12.2017. (JMI)

Don Carlo © M. Lorenzo
Palau de Les Arts’ Don Carlo © M. Lorenzo

Don Carlo – Andrea Carè
Elisabetta – María José Siri
Filippo II – Alexander Vinogradov
Rodrigo – Plácido Domingo
Eboli – Violeta Urmana
Inquisitor – Marco Spotti
Frate – Rubén Amoretti
Lerma/King’s Herald – Matheus Pompeu
Tebaldo – Karen Gardeazábal
Heaven’s Voice – Olga Zharikova

Production: Deutsche Oper Berlin
Director – Marco Arturo Marelli
Sets and Lighting – Marco Arturo Marelli
Costumes – Dagmar Niefind

The opera season at the Palau de Les Arts has opened with the four-act Italian version of Don Carlo. It’s a work that has been absent from the Valencia stage for the past ten years; the magnificent earlier version was led by the unforgettable Lorin Maazel.

This Marco Arturo Marelli production, which originates with the Deutsche Oper, premiered in Berlin in 2011 and has been staged quite frequently. As with other works by Marelli, it’s quite traditional. The sets are practical, based on a series of blocks, the movement of which facilitates scene changes. The blocks, when closed in various scenes, form a big Latin cross that ends up being the distinctive emblem of this production. The costumes are appropriate and mostly in grey; the stage direction basically narrates the plot and is generally effective.

The musical direction was in the hands of Ramón Tebar whose conducting was uneven: convincing in the second part of the opera, but just efficient in the first two acts, with an excess of orchestral volume at times. There’s no doubt that Ramón Tebar is one of the best opera conductors today in Spain, as evidenced by his constant presence in the different houses. Just this autumn he led Un ballo in maschera in A Coruña, Il trovatore in Oviedo and El gato montés at the Teatro de la Zarzuela, and he’ll conduct L’elisir d’amore at the Liceu next month. Under his baton were the, as always, brilliant orchestra and excellent chorus

Tenor Andrea Carè has an appealing voice, one that is well suited to the demands of Don Carlo. However, he does push too hard when the tessitura rises, and his singing becomes a bit monotonous because of the lack of colours in his voice.

Soprano María José Siri as Elisabetta is more comfortable in other types of characters such as Puccini’s Butterfly. Elisabetta’s dramatic demands are very different, and Siri tends to be a bit short at the low notes and tight at the top.

Filippo II was played by Russian bass Alexander Vinogradov, who has a wide and attractive voice. The one drawback is that he sings everything in forte with little nuance.

Plácido Domingo, the Superman of opera, interpreted the part of the Marquis of Posa, Don Carlo’s friend, and it demands a certain amount of credibility to accept a man of his age playing this young dreamer. Independent of his transition to the baritone repertoire, about which much has been written, it must be said that Domingo is a great artist and perhaps the only one in the cast who did not have problems, although his voice is not in principle the most appropriate for the role of Rodrigo. It was the first time that I’ve witnessed him needing to lean on a partner in order to die on the floor.

Princess Eboli was sung by Violeta Urmana, who seems to have returned to the mezzo-soprano range which, in my opinion, she should never have left. In the first act her voice seemed smaller than before, and the final bars of the Veil Song were cut. Her ‘O don fatale’ was often uncontrolled.

The Grand Inquisitor demands a deep bass in order to make a notable contrast with the voice of Filippo, a bass baritone. However, that was not the case here: Marco Spotti is also a bass baritone, with a timbre very similar to Fiippo’s.

Rubén Amoretti did well as Frate, and Matheus Pompeu made a good impression as Lerma and the Herald. The Tebaldo of Karen Gardeazábal was correct, as was the Voice of Heaven played by Olga Zharikova. Let it be remembered that ten years ago the Voice of Heaven was sung by Olga Peretyatko …

José M. Irurzun

2 thoughts on “Highlights and Shadows Abound in This <i>Don Carlo</I>”

  1. Thanks for your review! I agree with most of it.
    Just one remark as an explanation: Domingo did not die on the floor, because he was injured. He had had an accident a few days prior the performance, and was suffering major pains. I am sure next time he will “die as usual”. :)

    • S&H is always pleased to recieve this sort of information to inform its readers. Thank you.


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