On February 28, the Metropolitan Opera exhibited for the first time in its history the Don Carlos by Verdi in its original version in French, announced with great fanfare. However, the program, broadcast in theaters on March 26, is perplexing as to the version it offers. For the record, remember that there are two French scores of Don Carlos : the one that Verdi completed in 1866 for the rehearsals of the work and the one that was given during the premiere on March 11, 1867 in which more than five passages had been deleted, in particular the first scene of the first act, between Isabel and the woodcutters, the Elisabeth and Eboli duet that precedes “O don fatal” and part of the large group that concludes the fourth act, whose music Verdi reuses in his Requiem. Apparently it was the 1867 version and its cuts that the Met opted for, with some borrowings from the four-act version premiered in Italian at Milan in 1883, notably the duet between Philip II and Posa in two and the full line of homesick for elisabeth when her husband gives her jewelry box at the beginning of the fourth (in Italian “Ben lo sapete, un dìpromise”). On the other hand, the ending of this act has been preserved in its entirety. On the other hand, we can regret the suppression of the scene in which Elisabeth offers Eboli to take her place at the party that is being prepared at the beginning of the third, a scene that justifies Don Carlos’ error that follows. The ballet also fell by the wayside. As we can see, we were treated to something of a hybrid mosaic when the Paris Opera presented the 1866 version in the fall of 2017 uncut.
David MacVicar places the action in its original context as evidenced by the magnificent costumes of B.Rigitte Reiffenstuel. The unique decoration, signed Charles Edwards, consists of two gigantic walls, rounded in shape, pierced with cells that sometimes evoke catacombs, sometimes a theater in ruins. In the first and last act a giant censer is suspended from the hangers, in the fourth there is an imposing Christ on the cross. There are no gardens or church in this dark and haunting universe. The execution of the Flemish deputies by strangulation takes place on the set and at the end, Don Carlos is stabbed by the King’s guards while Posa, who appears in a white light, drags him with him. The direction of actors in general remains conventional, we knew the most inspired Scottish director.
Don Carlos © Ken Howard / Met Opera
The distribution, uneven, does not deserve praise. meigui zhang is a lovely page with a piquant timbre, the cavernous timbre of matthew rose turns his monk into a mysterious character at will, while the Grand Inquisitor of Juan Relyea He impresses as soon as he steps on stage thanks to his impressive voice and his disturbing makeup. Instead jamie barton She proves to be unbelievable as Princess Éboli, her scandalous performance borders on the ridiculous and her bearing is not what is expected of a woman of her rank. The vocalizations of the song of the veil of her are laborious, however, the insolence and the measure of her means to which she unleashes in “O fatal gift”, earned her an ovation from the public that apparently filled her the ears. From her Parisian Rodrigue in October 2019, the voice ofEtienne Dupuis he has gained in confidence and amplitude, he portrays an exalted and youthful hero, moving in his exchanges with Carlos, excessive when he evokes Flanders, especially in front of the king he easily dominates. In the prison scene, the elegance of his phrasing and the many nuances with which he peppers his vocal line help make the death of his character an especially poignant moment. At the end of the show, the audience will warmly applaud this high-flying incarnation.
As we have said, in front of him Philip II ofEric Owen does not weigh The American bass baritone portrays a modest king lacking in authority, especially in his confrontations with his wife. The grand air of him “She doesn’t love me” sung in a dull, monochromatic voice arouses very little emotion. This cantaor, whom we have known much better in other repertoires, finds his limits here. sonia yoncheva who had conquered the Parisian public five years ago with his youthful and moving Elisabeth, renews his feat here. The purity of her voice, the delicacy of her singing line, and the subtlety of her playing make her a near-ideal queen. Hers “You Who Know Nothing” in which she tastefully varies the colors is a big hit despite a low-key record that she is smart not to emphasize. Finally, Matthew Polenzani is the third winner of the evening. He ardently takes on the role of Don Carlos, making him a heartbroken hero who commands lasting attention. The nobility of his singing, the fineness of his nuances and his impeccable diction offer moments of pure happiness. The poignant outbursts of his rebellion after Posa’s death would bring tears to the stones.
On the desk patrick furrer replaced Yannick Nézet-Seguin who suffers. The young Swiss conductor seems at times overwhelmed by a score in which he does not always find the right beat, as some discrepancies during the third act show. He is most convincing during the last two acts, particularly at the end of the room in which he extols the grandiose aspect.
On Saturday, May 7, the Metropolitan Opera will be broadcast in theaters on the Pathé Live network Turandot by Puccini with Liudmyla Monastyrska in the title role.