While Aeros fans frolicked with players, coaches, and Chilly at Discovery Green last evening,
friends and I saw the Met's Don Carlo encore in the movie theatre.
Finally- was it worth the wait? Darn right! Absolutely!
I avoided for so long reading the already published reviews.
Now I state mine, hopefully as un-influenced as I can make it.
Verdi's Opera is DARK. With chilling red accents!
As during the auto da fe, when flames devour heretics, as perceived by the inquisition...
most certainly the darkest times in Spanish history!
Dark in scope, dark in sound, dark in costumes, dark in emotions.
But what emotions though:
love, hatred, jealousy, remorse, narrowness of ideas, stubbornness, liberal ideas, horrible persecution, death, fire, eternal damnation, ghostly appearances, flirtations, male bonding,
love big enough to die for... it is all there. In abundance!
Shiveringly wonderful! Searingly delicious! Sobbingly touching!
And all set to stirring, overwhelming music.
Suited to the persons' characters and their evolution throughout this LONG opera.
French Canadian Conductor Nezet-Seguin seemed to have an instinct for this music,
despite the fact he is not known as a Verdian interpreter.
He sure proved to be one, here. From the first note to the last he guided the orchestra tautly and feelingly. although a bit loudly.
Majestic singing by veteran Furlanetto as the tortured King Phillip, who'd kill his own son to appease the Grand Inquisitor.
Who was sung blood chillingly by Halvarsson, but a bit over the top IMO, another veteran of the stage.
A newcomer (more or less) soprano Poplavskaya as Elisabetta, spun sounds as light as cobwebs and beautiful as a spring morning, but seemed to have a bit of trouble holding out to the bitter end.
Tenor Alagna, still a fine romantic looking figure in his forties, imbued the role of Don Carlo with panache and sexuality that reached both Elisabetta and his bosom friend Rodrigo, Marquis de Posa!
That role, was acted rather well by baritone Keenlyside.
Chers Readers may recall my post on him in the role of HAMLET at the Met, which he sung stunningly and movingly.That role IS truly more suited to his voice.
As Rodrigo he looked tired (close ups were not too complimentary-am sure in the theater it did not show him up like that). Perhaps, because he truly needed to force his voice to the breaking point for the melodious, but stentorian sounds required by Verdi. At times, he was drowned out by the sheer force of the orchestra, even as the microphones seemed well positioned to capture him.
The Eboli, sung by Mezzo Smirnova, was a bit disappointing, except at the very end when she rued her jealous behaviour in the dramatic aria 'O don fatale'! Oh fatal gift (of beauty as perceived by herself)
Large Chorus was well guided. The smaller group of 'Flemish applicants' sang touchingly in their unsuccessful pleading for clemency.
A real surprise was the short but fiendishly high "celestial voice" from somewhere off stage,
sung with crystal sound by soprano Check.
And the apparition of the Great King Carlos V, sung by Alexei Tanovitsky (?), constantly caused shivers down my spine during the few times he appears on the stage.
But then I am VERY partial to deep male voices!
Especially to those almost too, ah well, you know what I mean, effects they seem to have on me :-)!
Now, I am utterly curious how our bijoux Opera in the Heights will cope with this monumental work on its 'postage stamp' sized stage in the intimate house?
How will OH's Maestro get the orchestra to give as rich and powerful, and yet not burst our eardrums with it, this huge sound?
Having heard several of the singers engaged by OH! before, I know that most have the lung power to present well, others are unknown.
But I assume they were all well chosen to compliment each other ..
Please, dear opera gods, let them just have the stamina to get through this grand opera, in the fullest sense.
YOU, cher reader, will just have to come to the Opera in the Heights to see/hear for yourself!
See you there?! As a last taste: an excellent clip of the fatal aria of the princess Eboli: