Don Carlos strikes me as Verdi’s most advanced and interesting work (although till Thursday afternoon I had solely seen the Italian model). I like its totally realized, three-dimensional characters and the seriousness of their dilemmas.
The opera additionally offers with some very deep points: the conflict of the non-public versus the political; ardour and love versus obligation and honor; tyranny versus the eager for freedom, and the battle between secular legislation and non secular doctrine embodied by the unyielding Grand Inquisitor. And, above all, the fantastic music with nonstop highly effective arias and scenes.
Lyric Opera of Chicago has assembled a world-class group of singers (and most often, actors) to deliver the story alive in French. The delicacy of the French language offers the opera a fragile, romantic high quality, much less intense than in Italian, but it surely serves the story very nicely certainly.
The aspect that doesn’t serve the story is Robert Jones’ chilly, looming set design, composed of pillars and platforms of gray brick. The opening Fontainebleau scene and the backyard scene make no sense and not using a trace of greenery or lushness. The numerous traces describing the fantastic thing about the forest go for naught.
The set works slightly nicely for the monastery scenes, although the one concession to actuality is a gray brick black wall that rises for the indoor scene and goes again down for the outside. As well as, the numerous platform ranges function an “actor entice,” as we watched a number of choristers seeming to journey and barely hold themselves from falling.
The worst instance of this was within the curtain name, as our Elisabetta’s skirt caught on a platform edge and she or he needed to be rescued by the Grand Inquisitor! Fortunately, we had superb, moody lighting from authentic designer Joachim Klein and revival designer Jan Hartmann. Brigitte Reiffenstuel’s costumes are trendy and applicable, particularly these of the ladies. Elisabetta’s golden gown within the auto-da-fe scene is a marvel.
Regardless of the designs, we had a wonderful afternoon of music-making. Enrique Mazzola led a surprising efficiency from the Lyric Opera Orchestra, immensely supportive of the singers and bringing Verdi’s shifting music vividly to life.
Tenor Joshua Guerrera, who was so shifting as Macduff final season, sang with ardency and actual emotional energy—his agony over the lack of Elisabetta is deeply felt. He used his clarion tenor with tonal magnificence and incisive phrasing. His potent appearing made the character’s horrible dilemmas appear very actual certainly.
He was matched with a beautiful efficiency by soprano Rachel Willis-Sorenson, who sang all through with limpid magnificence and delicacy. Her ultimate aria “Toi qui sus le néant” was a mannequin of assorted feelings and vocal colours. Maybe probably the most shifting second got here in Act 1, when Elisabetta is instructed she can be wedded to the King as an alternative of the Carlos she already loves.
When requested if she is going to settle for marriage to the King, she took an agonized pause earlier than barely having the ability to get out a really painful “Oui.” It’s a fantastic second in an opera stuffed with them. It also needs to be mentioned that Guerrero and Willis-Sorenson have large chemistry between them, and it crackles with connection whether or not they’re collectively or aside.
Clementine Margaine is a strong, fierce Princess Eboli each as a singer and actress. Her “Veil Track” within the second act was a marvel, going from delicate romance to exceptional moments of sheer quantity that garnered an enormous ovation. She was “a girl scorned” within the Backyard scene, and is deeply remorseful as she admits her wrongdoing to the Queen. Her aria “O don deadly”, one among my favorites in all of Verdi, was dispatched superbly with all its emotional energy.
Baritone Igor Golovatenko made a superb Lyric debut as Carlos’ pal loyal pal Rodrigue, his potent voice stuffed with heat and tonal magnificence. And although his appearing expertise have been rudimentary, he nonetheless managed to make the deep friendship reference to Carlos come to life.
The one disappointment for me was the King Phillipe of Russian bass Dmitri Belosselskiy, a singer I’ve loved in earlier seasons. He appeared vocally a bit bland, and he was failed to present life to the troubled aria “Elle ne m’aime pas” Belosselskiy was unable to completely replicate the King’s deep conflicts within the scene. It was a superbly competent efficiency amid a whole lot of vivid ones. Solomon Howard was an unusually vicious, rabid Grand Inquisitor. He was appropriately scary.
I discovered Denis Velez slightly annoying as a too-cutesy Thibault. Peixin Chen was a high-quality Monk.
Director David McVicar and revival director Axel Weidauer instructed the story very nicely and crafted the manufacturing for optimum emotional affect. There was fairly a bit of wierd blocking decisions, with a lot of aimless wandering throughout some arias, however I suppose it’s powerful to dam singers appropriately on these gray platforms with a number of ranges. However they succeeded mightily in protecting the motion shifting in order that the opera’s 4 hours glided by with out longueurs.
I loved very a lot my first likelihood to see/hear the opera in French, and it was an actual feast of fine singing and orchestral grandeur. I have to additionally point out the sumptuous work of the Lyric Opera Refrain underneath Michael Black, singing and appearing with precision and magnificence.
Photographs: Todd Rosenberg