[Met Performance] CID:351687
Don Carlo {184} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/30/2006., Sirius Broadcast live

(Debut: Andrea Lucaciu

Metropolitan Opera House
November 30, 2006 Broadcast/Streamed
In Italian

Giuseppe Verdi--François Joseph Méry/Camille du Locle

Don Carlo...............Johan Botha
Elizabeth of Valois.....Patricia Racette
Rodrigo.................Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Princess Eboli..........Olga Borodina
Philip II...............René Pape
Grand Inquisitor........Samuel Ramey
Celestial Voice.........Jennifer Check
Friar...................Andrew Gangestad
Tebaldo................ Kate Lindsey
Forester................Patrick Carfizzi
Count of Lerma..........Sebastian Catana
Countess of Aremberg....Andrea Lucaciu [Debut]
Herald..................Eduardo Valdes

Conductor...............James Levine

Production..............John Dexter
Set designer............David Reppa
Costume designer........Ray Diffen
Lighting designer.......Gil Wechsler
Stage Director..........Stephen Pickover

Revival gift of The Sybil B. Harrington Endowment Fund

Broadcast live on Sirius Metropolitan Opera Radio
Streamed live at metopera.org

Don Carlo received seven performances this season

Production photos by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.

Review of David J. Baker in the February 2007 issue of OPERA NEWS

The Metropolitan Opera brought more than star power to its revival of John Dexter's 1979 production of "Don Carlo," and much more than star attitude. In their various ways, and despite vocal hazards here and there, each of the big-name principals on the first night of the run (Nov. 30) seemed committed as much to the work as to his or her personal success.

Most impressive of all was René Pape, who assumed the pivotal role of King Philip for the first time with the company. His timbre, as in his recent Met Méphistophélès, was richer and more varied than in some of his Wagner roles, and his complex dramatic portrayal anchored the production.

When this Philip mentions his dim view of humanity to Rodrigo, the line is not only
brought to life by deft vocal coloring; it has been signaled throughout by a shadowy mien totally at odds with the florid costuming. His soliloquy "Ella giammai m'amò" evoked every ounce of poignancy through finely modulated melodic phrases - a model of musicality and dramatic expression. Yet even here, Pape maintained the character's essential balance between self-pity and realism, heart and mind.

His characterization included fine details, such as the near-gasp on his question to Elisabetta "Fra i vostri gioiel?" or a forlorn way of clutching at his cloak in the cold, lonely dawn of Act IV His interactions with other characters covered a range of dramatic emotions, including flashes of irony (with Rodrigo) or cajolery (with the Inquisitor). Though Philip's defining anger burst out effectively when required, Pape was even more effective in visibly and audibly suppressing it.

The Don Carlo, Johan Botha, has one of those prodigious, massive sounds, especially in the upper register, that can make up for a lack of nuance and an awkward, even unfortunate, stage presence. While he clearly sought to vary the vocal attack appropriately and with musical sense, his portrayal rarely went beyond generalized anguish.

Patricia Racette had the sensibility and charm of an ideal Elisabetta di Valois, though a strictly lyric timbre and recessive low range limited her vocal options. She crowned both her arias with fine-spun high pianissimo phrases.

There was inevitably some disappointment when the commendable Eboli of Olga Borodina, in her role debut in the house, ran into trouble in "O don fatale." The closing B-flats in this showpiece sounded exhausted rather than triumphant. She had opened strong in Act II with a dynamic veil song, and her rhythmic incisiveness and range of color were memorable in the garden scene and her confession to the queen.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky returned as the intense, sympathetic Rodrigo, possibly even more defiant toward the king than in earlier performances, and Andrew Gangestad sang fulsomely as the friar.

The production seemed fresh for its age, though the poorly coordinated auto-da-fé scene was effective mainly for its sets and costuming. Choristers got in one another's way, the offstage brass was out of sync with the pit, and none of the entrances or confrontations showed much life.

James Levine conducted loosely much of the time, allowing the woodwinds in particular to blare their figured accompaniments in muted vocal passages such as the first soprano aria and Rodrigo's farewell.

Opera casting has a tradition of quasi-cameo appearances by veteran stars, a gentle way of going into the dark night of retirement (think Rysanek or Söderström as the Old Countess in The Queen of Spades), and in the role of the Grand Inquisitor this production boasted a searing performance by a former King Philip of distinction, Samuel Ramey. Some of his lines went quavery, but at the climactic outbursts on forceful high notes, this Inquisitor had the vehemence and ruthlessness of the dangerous fanatic.

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