[Met Performance] CID:216210
Don Carlo {74} Metropolitan Opera House: 10/7/1968.

(Debut: Martti Talvela, Claudio Abbado

Metropolitan Opera House
October 7, 1968
In Italian

Giuseppe Verdi--François Joseph Méry/Camille du Locle

Don Carlo...............Bruno Prevedi
Elizabeth of Valois.....Gabriella Tucci
Rodrigo.................Robert Merrill
Princess Eboli..........Irene Dalis
Philip II...............Nicolai Ghiaurov
Grand Inquisitor........Martti Talvela [Debut]
Celestial Voice.........Margaret Kalil
Friar...................Paul Plishka
Tebaldo.................Judith Forst
Count of Lerma..........Gabor Carelli
Countess of Aremberg....Patricia Heyes
Herald..................Robert Goodloe

Conductor...............Claudio Abbado [Debut]

Production..............Margaret Webster
Stage Director..........Bodo Igesz
Designer................Rolf Gérard

Translation by Lauzières, Zanardini

Don Carlo received seven performances this season.

Review of Irving Kolodin in the October 26, 1968 issue of the Saturday Review

Talvela and Ghiaurov

Metropolitan Operagoers have something to look forward to in theatrical artistry if they are fortunate enough to draw a subscription performance of Verdi's" Don Carlo" in which Nicolai Ghiaurov as King Philip II is confronted by the substantial size and sound of Martti Talvela as the Grand Inquisitor - preferably with Claudio Abbado conducting. New singers rarely make one forget the circumstances of a Metropolitan debut as quickly as Talvela did, or establish a claim on lasting favor in a single scene.

However, with the flowing red robes enhancing his generous height (six feet, seven inches) and the dark robust sound matching any reasonable conception of how this music should sound, the Finnish basso was in favor after but a phrase or two. How he sounded accorded with expectations, but there had been little forewarning of his mastery of makeup, or his power as a stage artist. He conceives the Inquisitor not merely as a gaunt, gnarled oak of a man, but also one on whose face has been etched the hard self-discipline of decades. It is, of course, inherent in the plotting of the part that the Grand Inquisitor assert his authority over the merely temporal monarch; but when he can make such a Philip II as Ghiaurov's cringe, he has indeed asserted his right to recognition as a theatrical personality.

The masterful scene, one of Verdi's greatest, began impressively with Ghiaurov exercising full persuasion over Philip's monologue, with a ringing command of declamation and a full, flowing legato. There are as many ways of performing this scene as there are imaginative singers to perform it, ranging from the subtle to the demonstrative. Ghiaurov's is high up the scale on the demonstrative side, to the point indeed of excess when he strides to the footlights for the concluding passages. It does put him in position to acknowledge applause with a slight bow, but is the applause so precious to him?

To Abbado's credit, he did not surrender the director's prerogatives in the presence of two such formidable performers as Ghiaurov and Talvela. Indeed, it was in this sequence, on the evening of his debut, that he asserted himself most positively as Verdi's buckler and shield. Earlier in the evening, the erstwhile co-winner of a Mitropoulos conducting competition and assistant director of the Philharmonic had presented his credentials in musicianship with a clean, well-sounding supervision of the orchestral episodes. (He also exercised more diffidence than might have been expected in consideration for the vocalists.) At the week's second performance on Saturday night, he was clearly moving away from any tentativeness toward full control. On the basis of this showing, there is every reason to suppose that he can become a first-rank opera conductor.

The casts of the week's two "Don Carlo"s were largely identical - Bruno Prevedi, more a tenor as Carlo than he has been previously (which is to say that his baritonal beginnings are steadily receding); Robert Merrill as Posa giving few signs of a run of eighteen years in this part; Gabriella Tucci performing an attractive but rather impersonal Elisabetta. Irene Dalis was a strong Eboli (one of her best parts) at the first performance; Fiorenza Cossotto full of feminine witchery and vocal finesse in her first venture as the unhappy Princess later in the week. Given this kind of personnel, as well as Abbado's propulsive direction, Don Carlo is again a feast for the ears as well as a spectacle for the eyes.

Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names

Back to short citation(s).