Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Don Carlos from Paris

Conductor: Philippe Jordan
Regie:  Krzysztof Warlikowski

Jonas Kaufmann (Don Carlos)
Elina Garanča (Die Prinzessin Eboli)
Sonya Yoncheva (Élisabeth de Valois)
Ludovic Tézier (Rodrigue)
Dmitry Belosselskiy (Der Großinquisitor)
Ildar Abdrazakov (Philippe II)
Eve-Maud Hubeaux (Thibault)

The most recent operatic excitement on the international scene is the French version of Verdi's Don Carlos presented at the Opera Bastille with the above cited participants.  It claims to be the original French version of the opera, though there is no ballet.  Certain features of the production can be seen above.  Pictures are projected on a scrim in black and white that look like old silent movie films in very much deteriorated condition.  When Don Carlos loses Elisabeth, he points a gun at his head but does not shoot.  He does this again at the end.

The costumes suggest the Spanish Civil War.  My French is not good enough for this.  I would need English subtitles.

I am here for Elina Garanča as Eboli.  She is by far the most lively inhabiter of this role that I have seen.  She seems to have a clause in her contract that says she will smoke and kiss girls in every production.  Just kidding.  It makes you wonder if she actually smokes.  She is very sexy and flirtatious as Eboli.

In general the production explains nothing.  Elisabeth appears at a treeless Forest of Fontainebleau dressed in her bridal gown and prepared to wed.  When the groom changes from Carlos to Philippe, she immediately marries the new bridegroom, apparently by proxy since the man she appears to marry is not Philippe.  The scenes never look like anything they are supposed to be, but names of where we are appear on my screen for every scene.

Philip II of Spain was a real person who lived in the time of Elizabeth I of England and was in fact married to Elizabeth's sister Mary just before his marriage to Élisabeth de Valois.  Here he is shown at his coronation which would have occurred years before.  Oh well.  It replaces the martyrs burning at the stake which we do not miss.

The music is enjoyable and somehow less Italian.

There is a giant film of an ugly face and hands with a small naked body hanging out of it's mouth.  I don't know what this is for.  When Philippe sings that his wife does not love him, Eboli is with him.  She leaves when the Grand Inquisitor arrives.  She returns to do her big aria which is intense and beautiful.

Ludovic Tézier sings his death scene in the prison very beautifully and brings me to tears.  We don't see who has shot him.  Carlos gets out of his cell and does not return to it.  Philippe, the queen and Eboli enter after Posa has died.  When the crowd enters, Carlos escapes.  Eboli sings a few lines, kisses the king in front of everyone, including the queen and the grand inquisitor, and follows after Carlos.  The queen's presence suggests that perhaps she has assisted in Carlos's escape.

The ending is unspeakably awesome.  There are not words for something so beautiful.  The queen poisons herself.  It ends with the picture above.  The performance ends well, but it isn't just the singing.  The mysteriously romantic playing of the orchestra can also be credited.  This is the first I have liked Yoncheva.  Jonas was magnificent.

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