Notes and Editorial Reviews
The version of Don Carlo used by Modena in this production is the hybrid Verdi put together in 1886 for this very theater: it is the five-act Italian-language version, containing not only the Fontainebleau Scene, but the extended scene after Posa’s death. The sets by Alessandro Ciammarughi are traditional and thoughtfully designed; real props (tree trunks, a fountain, the Tomb) alternate with painted backdrops (the Cathedral at Valladolid), all of it wisely and atmospherically lit. Ciammarughi’s 16th-century costumes are lavish and beautiful. Joseph Franconi Lee’s direction is not particularly imaginative. The chorus, which walks to one side of the stage or the other, stays put and sings; the soloists seem to be on their own, with the most
convincing acting coming from the Elisabeth and Philip.
Some of the singing is impressive indeed. Bass Giacomo Prestia as Philip has a dark, handsome sound and he saves himself for the fourth act when it really matters—his big aria, duet with the Grand Inquisitor (Luciano Montanaro, aiming for volume and not always succeeding), and ensemble. He will be worth hearing again. Mario Malagnini’s Carlo takes a while to warm up, and while his acting is pretty much one stock gesture after another, he eventually is quite winning and sings with real energy. Cellia Costea displays a warm, natural, full lyric soprano as Elisabeth; she is an elegant artist and colors her final aria with fine shades and impressive dynamic control.
Simone Piazzola’s Posa is fearlessly and eloquently sung, rising to the occasion of the remarkable death scene Verdi has written for him and singing musically in the duets and ensembles. He’s clumsy on stage, but a good director probably will be able to fix that. Mezzo Alla Pozniak proves a troublesome Eboli. Utterly secure on stage, she seems not to care that her voice is made up of a few separate registers, that her middle voice disappears if there’s any competition (as in the Garden trio), and that her high notes fly wildly sharp. Somehow, she still makes the correct impact. The chorus is brilliant in the Auto-da-fé.
You get the feeling that conductor Fabrizio Ventura leads the opera for either great intimacy or great tension, with little in between, and that his singers might have stood out a bit more had he cared more. But oddly, for all the criticism, the overall impression is of a fine representation of this grand work. It is not a first choice among videos, however—that goes to the 1983 Metropolitan Opera performance under James Levine with Freni, Domingo, Bumbry, and Ghiaurov—but it is a fine-looking, honest reading. Subtitles are available in all major European languages and Korean, Chinese, and Japanese.
-- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Don Carlos by Giuseppe Verdi
Giacomo Prestia (Baritone),
Mario Malagnini (Tenor),
Simone Piazzola (Baritone),
Cellia Costea (Soprano),
Irene Candelier (Soprano)
Emilia Regional Municipal Theatre Orchestra,
Amadeus Lyric Chorus
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