Saturday, December 11, 2010

Don Carlo in HD

Today's simulcast of Verdi's Don Carlo didn't sound anything like this:

Marina Poplavskaya sings it like this:

Rather astoundingly different.

Don Carlo-Roberto Alagna
Elizabeth of Valois-Marina Poplavskaya
Princess Eboli-Anna Smirnova
Rodrigo-Simon Keenlyside
King Philip II-Ferruccio Furlanetto
Grand Inquisitor-Eric Halfvarson

Conductor-Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Production-Nicholas Hytner

The version is all five acts.

Act I. a wonderful black and white abstraction of the forest at Fontainebleau where Elisabeth de Valois and Don Carlo fall in love begins the opera. Then it is announced that as part of the treaty with Spain Elisabeth is to marry King Philip II of Spain, not his son Carlo, destroying their hopes for a beautiful life. I swear I have never seen it with this scene included. It is utterly charming and for me completely changes the character of the opera. The beauty of opera lies in the personal.

There is very little color throughout the opera. Most of the costumes are black or white. Red and gold are the only other colors. Each setting emphasized the meaning of each scene. This made the drama very vivid and easy to follow.

Ferruccio Furlanetto played the King in LA, too. He's still quite wonderful. Simon Keenlyside was up to the lyricism of Rodrigo, though I continue to have doubts about him as a Verdi singer.

But perhaps the Met is trying something different here. Except for our wild Inquisitor, and perhaps Eboli, the entire cast is exhibiting a sweeter, more lyrical approach to Verdi. I thought it worked. One grows tired of being punched all the time. And perhaps the sweet tempered French Canadian conductor, Yannick Nézet-Séguin helped to lead the production in this direction.

Roberto Alagna was very strong in this part. If the other characters don't overwhelm him, then Carlo becomes truly the center of his opera. His singing was strong and sensitive throughout. I loved him.

One of the high points was when the host, Deborah Voigt, was interviewing her tenor for Fanciulla, Marcello Giordani, and asked him what was his favorite part of the opera? He responded by kissing her. Very funny. Maybe I would like Fanciulla more as a comedy.


Anonymous said...

Wow, both are so beautiful.
Price's voice is so, well muscular. Probably just threw you off your seat. The other lady's voice was less so but not less pure or thrilling to my ear. I liked her upper range especially.
So, B, how do you compare these perfs? KC

Dr.B said...

One of the wonderful things about the operatic art form is the opportunity it offers to such widely varying artists.

Price was a phenomenon. With her huge open tone and wildly self-confident performing style she most resembled a fabulous gospel singer. She brought soul to Verdi in a perfect blending.

Poplavskaya is more lyrical and inward, but her characterization is full and compelling. Her singing is less overwhelming, but her performance is more complete.