Thursday 22 August 2013


Für die Salzburger Festspiele 2013 erarbeiteten Regisseur Peter Stein und der Dirigent Antonio Pappano die Urfassung der Oper – allerdings in Italienisch und ohne das Ballett. Hingegen sind auch jene Passagen zu hören, die noch vor der Uraufführung 1867 kurzfristig gestrichen wurden.
So in 2013 a Don Carlo is performed with all the music from the orginal version but without the ballet and in Italian in stead of the original French. I was very happy to hear it in Italian because I think in French it is too weak. Musically Verdi is almost always better in Italian than another language. Jerusalem might be the only exception. But all that "original version" music makes Don Carlo extremely long even without ballet and it drags it down. Especially the Lacrymosa part of the prison scene makes it slow and I for one loses the interest because the drama is halted. For me Jonas Kaufmann is more of a handsome man than a tenor. I love to look at him but I don't always love to hear him. His voice is too dark for me so I always hear baritone when he sings as tenor. Other than that, I just find it a nice experiment but hopes that no one follows. Doubt my plea will be heard. Originalism is now rampant in opera.

I love the 4 act Italian version of Don Carlo without any Lacrymosa ans such. Love the Don Carlo from Salzburg 1986 with Carreras, Furlanetto, Izzo D'Amico, Baltsa, Cappuccilli. A true classic and it is on DVD. Wonderful, beautiful production with Karajan!!! Then another Don Carlo, also possible to buy on DVD, Willy Decker's Don Carlo from Amsterdam 2004 with Rolando Villazon as Don Carlo.

But if I were to buy the 5 act version I would love to get Don Carlo from Royal Opera House 2008 with Rolando Villazon or from the Met 2010 with Roberto Alagna. Not avalable on DVD yet. And they are both in Italian and it is the same production by Nicholas Hytner. Other than Don Carlo it is mostly the same cast, different Eboli though. The music just flows and it is a beautiful production.

In all version I think that the acting is very good. The one from 1986 might seem a bit stiff by comparison but one should remember that the court of Filip 2 was not a loose one.

Jonas Kaufmann as Don Carlo in Salzburg 2013 ORF TvThek
Broadcast date : Aug. 16, 2013, 5:30 p.m.
Antonio Pappano conductor
Peter Stein stage director
Ferdinand Wögerbauer set designer
Annamaria Heinreich costume designer
Joachim Barth lightings
Lia Tsolaki choreography
Jörn Hinnerk Andresen chorus master

Matti Salminen (Flilppo II)
Jonas Kaufmann (Don Carlo)
Anja Harteros (Elisabetta di Valois)
Thomas Hampson (Rodrigo, Marchese di Posa)
Ekaterina Semenchuk (La Principessa Eboli)
Eric Halfvarson (Il Grande Inquisitore)
Robert Lloyd (Un frate)
Maria Celeng (Tebaldo)
Sen Guo (Una voce dal cielo)
Benjamin Bernheim (Il Conte di Lerma/Un Araldo reale)
Members of the Young Singers Project (Sei deputati fiamminghi)
Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus
Wiener Philharmoniker
Agnes Méth movie director
Location : Grosses Festspielhaus (Salzburg, Austria)

Roberto Villazon as Don Carlo in New York 2010 MetOpera on Demand

Don Carlo
(Dec. 11, 2010)

Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Librettist: Original French libretto by François Joseph Méry and Camille du Locle, based on the play by Friedrich Schiller
Nézet-Séguin; Poplavskaya, Smirnova, Alagna, Keenlyside, Furlanetto

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Approximate running time: 3 hrs. 35 min.

Director Nicholas Hytner, who made his Met debut with this production, brings out all the passionate intensity that is at the heart of Verdi’s monumental drama. Don Carlo (Roberto Alagna), the Spanish crown prince, and Elizabeth of Valois (Marina Poplavskaya), daughter of the King of France, fall in love, only to be torn apart by international politics when Carlo’s father, King Philip II (Ferruccio Furlanetto), decides to marry Elizabeth himself. Carlo’s friend, Rodrigo (Simon Keenlyside), plays a dangerous game, balancing his political aims with the trust of his monarch. And when the beautiful Princess Eboli (Anna Smirnova) discovers her love for Don Carlo is not returned, her revenge terribly backfires. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the Met orchestra and chorus.

Rolando Villazon as Don Carlo in London 2008

Antonio Pappano musical direction
Nicholas Hytner stage director
Bob Crowley set designer
Mark Henderson lightings

Rolando Villazón (Don Carlos)
Marina Poplavskaya (Elizabeth of Valois)
Simon Keenlyside (Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa)
Ferruccio Furlanetto (Philip II)
Sonia Ganassi (Princess Eboli)
Pumeza Matshikiza (Tebaldo)
Nikola Matišić (Count of Lerma)
Jacques Imbrailo (Flemish deputy)
Krzysztof Szumanski (Flemish deputy)
Kostas Smoriginas (Flemish deputy)
Daniel Grice (Flemish deputy)
Darren Jeffery (Flemish deputy)
Vuyani Mlinde (Flemish deputy)
Eric Halfvarson (Grand Inquisitor)
Robert Lloyd (Carlos V)
Anita Watson (Voice from Heaven)
Alexander D'Andrea (Priest inquisitor)

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Royal Opera Chorus
Renato Balsadonna chorus master
Movie director : Robin Lough

Musical period : Romanticism
Music genre : Opera
Duration : 03 h 29 min
Location : Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (London, Great Britain)
Production date : 2008
Production : © Opus Arte
Available version(s) : IT ST FR

Rolando Villazon as Don Carlo in Amsterdam 2004

Willy Decker stage director
Wolfgang Gussmann set designer

Robert Lloyd (Filippo II)
Rolando Villazón (Don Carlo)
Dwayne Croft (Rodrigo)
Jaakko Ryhänen (Il grande inquisitore)
Giorgio Giuseppini (Un frate)
Amanda Roocroft (Elisabetta di Valois)
Violeta Urmana (La principessa d’Eboli)
Marisca Mulder (Tebaldo, paggio d’Elisabetta)
Maartje de Lint (La contessa d’Aremberg)
Kristian Benedikt (Il conte di Lerma)
Rudi De Vries (Un araldo reale)
Cinzia Forte (Una voce dal cielo)

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Koor Van De Nederlandese Opera
Riccardo Chailly musical direction
Movie director : Misjel Vermeiren
Duration : 02 h 49 min
Location : De Nederlandse Opera (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Production date : 2004
Production : © NPS
Available version(s) : IT ST EN, IT ST ES, IT ST FR

Jose Carreras as Don Carlo in Salzburg 1986

For reviews from my travels, see

Wednesday 7 August 2013

The 3rd TROVATORE in 2013

I love opera and sometimes you will end up in surprising places, like El Vendrell, Catalonia, Spain. First I had to take the night bus to the airport, take the plane to Barcelona and then a train to El Vendrell. And so ca. 1430 on August 3rd, 2013, I was in El Vendrell train station and was starting to go to my hotel when I noticed that something was terribly wrong, my dear phone was missing. OperaDuets Iphone was not in my purse and nowhere in my backpack. So I went to the train station and finally he understood that I had forgot my Iphone on the train from Barcelona Sants to El Vendrell. Nobody found it on the train, nobody that searched for it did. But where is it, does anybody have it? 

Sadly, I just had to go to my hotel. No miracle waiting for me. I did not chose the most direct route to my hotel. I went via Plaza Vella. And it was such a small plaza but the stage was there alright. It was not possible to buy tickets yet, that was not until 1700. Then I walked to my hotel, Ramblas Vendrell and rested there until I was back in Plaza Vella and bought my ticket (20 Euros). Back to my hotel again since the restaurants was closed and I had to wait to have something to eat. But finally the restaurant was open for a hungry tourist and I had a pizza verdura. And then back to the Plaza. Sergi Gimenez, the Manrico of the evening was so surprised that I came for this little performance. Michelle Francis Cook and all the rest of cast was eating together and Michelle asked if I had eaten yet, and well, I had, hadn't I. It was so cute to meet them in such a way. 

IL TROVATORE, EL Vendrell 2013-08-03.
Count of Luna = Fernando Alvarez
Leonora = Michelle-Marie Francis Cook
Manrico = Sergi Giménez Carreras
Azucena = Montserrat Carreras

So there I was, in El Vendrell, to see IL TROVATORE in the tiny Plaza Vella. 

Michelle Francis Cook, a soprano destined to sing big roles in the big stages of the world (my opinion), sang Leonora with aplomb and delicacy. Sergi Gimenez never lost his way even when the orchestra sounded truly lost in Verdi's masterpiece. I loved his acting, but as he is the nephew of Josep Carreras he (and I) can never escape the memory of Carreras' voice. Fernando Alvarez was a strong, commanding Conte di Luna.

Of the main singers, Montserrat Carreras as Azucena was the one to suffer most from the lack of sync between the orchestra and stage. She had to do with what she had and what she had was the support of the other singers. Sergi was a great support!!

The chorus did an admirable job. I believe the cut in the score was not helpful. One had to take leaps of logic or know Trovatore well to understand it. It also made it harder for the orchestra to follow the score and the singers. Maestro Joan Toldra's tendency to go slow did not help. The orchestra also lacked some of the instruments needed to really make the music swing.

In many ways I could hear the complexity of Giuseppe Verdi's score and to suffer when it became to much to achieve in this night in lovely El Vendrell. But what can one expect after just one real rehearsal. To perfectly understand the musicality and the story of Il Trovatore much rehearsal is needed. But with their limited resources it was admirably done. 


So it was over, I got to talk to my new favorite soprano, Michelle Francis Cook. But then it was night and time to sleep in my hotel. So Sunday, up early, breakfast, to train station, no iphone, train to Barcelona Airport via Barcelona Sants. Then plane to Oslo. Airport Train to Oslo Main Train Station, then bus home. At midnight home. 

Thank you, Michelle Francis Cook and Sergi Gimenez for a wonderful evening in El Vendrell!!!

Friday 2 August 2013

Day 6+7: NABUCCO and home again.

NABUCCO, Arena di Verona 2013-07-25

I loved this production. All seamed so historial correct. And then we had this wonderful Abigaille, Lucrecia Garcia. She really made it all so perfect. Nobody shone like her in this show. Of course, it would not have worked without the other singers, the chorus and orchestra w/conductor. I love Abigaille!!! Lucrecia Garcia is certainly a singer I would love to see and hear more.

The best food with the best cameriere (Cinzia) was at Cafe Emanuel in Piazza Bra.

On Friday July 26th, 2013 when I was on my way home did I finally get some wonderful tasty pizza. First in Milano Malpensa airport and then in Frankfurt airport. With my father's 85th birthday on Monday the question was going home for a short stay or stay in Oslo with relatives. I went home to an appartment where the electricity went down every 5 hours, annoying. Then on Sunday back to Oslo and on Monday birthday party close to my hometown.
Dad, 85.