Don Carlo

Cond.: Marco Armiliato

Philip II: Rene Pape

Don Carlo: Franco Farina

Rodrigo: Thomas Hampson

Elisabeth: Norma Fantini

Eboli: Janina Baechle

Production: Pier Luigi Pizzi

Went to the last performance of Don Carlo this season last night, which was outstanding. The orchestra under Marco Armiliato was in top form, the singing was consistently excellent, and the sets were effective. I’d never heard Franco Farina before; he seemed to need a little time to warm up, sliding up into his higher notes as though looking for it, and then unleashing his considerable voice once he got there. Not quite as agile or flexible as many quieter tenors, but he makes up for this in richness of tone and auditorium-filling volume. Rene Pape was reliably very good, particularly his brooding aria lamenting the weight of his crown. Thomas Hampson was naturally fantastic. The lovely little duet between Rodrigo and Carlo (“Dio che nell’alma infondere amor”) was a little rushed by Marco Armiliato, edged towards urgency rather than lyricism, but Hampson and Farina still sounded excellent together. Janina Baechle stood in for Luciana D’Intino, who I was looking forward to hearing—everyone says that she was quite remarkable. Baechle was good, as she usually is; a tad on the shrill side, particularly towards the beginning. She doesn’t have much time to warm up before her main aria, and it sounded a bit harsh.

Tonight there’s the original French version, led by Bertrand de Billy, which might be fun…He’s been doing Don Carlos here at the Staatsoper for some time now, and it was a huge success it opened, so it might be worth checking out. The cast looks good too. But it’s a monster five hours long, and yesterday’s three and a half hours at the back of the standing area seemed quite long enough. Perhaps I’ll go for the first act.

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4 Responses

  1. I just wanted to say I like your blog. I don’t usually like or read blogs but I stumbled on your review of the Don Carlo and I kept reading. But I haven’t worked out either what you do or how you write such good English!

  2. Thanks Attila. Ah, yes, what I do…it’s often a mystery to myself. As for your kind comment about my English, I’m afraid I can’t claim any exceptional merit since English is my native language. But it’s nice to know that someone visits occasionally!

  3. Ah, so you must be American! Hence listening to the lectures. I think going to the opera in Vienna is one of the great things in life to do.

  4. Yes, actually I’m half American, half Italian, and my education was always conducted in English. And yes, the opera here is fantastic; and at two Euros for a standing ticket it’s almost unethical not to take advantage of it. One also occasionally meets nice people there : )

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