Kulturkompasset | critics of culture events


Stefano Secco as Don Carlos, in the opening act, Photo: Agathe Poupeney, Archive from 2008

Stefano Secco as Don Carlos, in the opening act, Photo: Agathe Poupeney, Archive from 2008

As very often at the Opera National in Paris. All the singers was of the highest possible quality
. The opera house is having a casting office who knows what they are dealing with. It is a great pleasure to enjoy a performance wher all the soloists are of so hig quality, and specialists at their roles.  

Personally it was my feeling that Ludovic Tézier as Marki di Posa, was the real highlight of the evening. His baryton voice is wonderful, power, beauty, and hos entry on stage, even in the deep darkness is so powerfull, as something extraordinary os going to happen, and then he opens his mouth and are singing so good. That the Opera in Paris are having this wonderful baryton is a force for the operahouse. He was closely followed up by the two wimens, Sondra Radvanovsky as Elisabeth de Valois. She had the fully controle and wonderful controled power, and it is amazing that she after nearly four hours on stageare managing to sing her two most wonderful, and difficut arias with so much beauty and power, it is like running a marathon.  Luciana D´Intino as Princess Eboli, what a wonderful voice she has, beautiful in the deepness, and full of tunes all the way her “O don Fatale” aria was fantastic. But the aria with the scarf in the garden scene with all the court ladies missed the history, as I didn´t find the flirt in it. Giacomo Prestia as King Philip has the beauty, profound and the  tranquility as demanded for this role, his big solo aria was a hit opening the third act was a highlight. Stefano Secco as Don Carlos is allways a safe card, his tenor voice is beautiful, and he is playing the role and all its details with intensity. During the way I enjoyed good diction.

Stefano Secco as Don Carlos. Photo: Agathe Poupeney

Stefano Secco as Don Carlos. Photo: Agathe Poupeney

The powerfull Grand Inquisitore was beautifully sung by Victor von Halem. Elisa Cenni was the young page Tebaldo. Olivia Doray as the voice from the heaven was good. I too enjoyed the Deputation from the Flandern and the six monks from the monastery. And Balint Szabos beautiful voice as the solo monk. 

The choir and the backstage orchestra did good jobs, and the orchestra played with good feeling and great details directed by Carlo Rizzi. In the beginning I was feeling that it was some times going too slowly, as it partly started to sound like Wagner, but in the second part with many great arias the speed became better, to my oppinnion. Of course with so many big voices on stage who can manage the slow tempo and fill it out with beauty, every conductor can feel that he want to give them all the time they need, and Don Carlos are having many parts where that is good, but to mee it was like the conductor was nearly going to park the music. I observed one man sleeping during these periodes.

Unfortunately, without the Fontainbleu scene, that I was missing, as the Paris opera are performing the version without Fontainbleu. Which will say that the audience, if they dont know the story, dont understand why Don Carlos is so jalouse at his father, and wanting to make love with his “mother” . I know it is a long opera with the Fontainbleu scene in addition, but it is better to play it with the Fontainbleu scene, and giving the audience the pleasure of understanding the opera. Another detail is that when the music are playing the “leading themes” from the Fontainbleu scene in connections with the meatings between Elisabeth and Don Carlos, that is a direct referances written by the composer Giuseppe Verdi, to their love affair in the forest around Fontainbleu, when they had their first meeting. This beautiful music detail is missing its effect when the Fontainbleu scene has not been there. Graham Vicks staging is simple and good, realised by Michel Jankeliovitch, every things seem naturally

. And I enjoy when the singers are playing a sincere role, so that I can trust in them. 

The Autodafee scene in Don Carlos 

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The Autodafee scene in Don Carlos. Photo: Agathe Poupeney, Archive photo from 2008

In the Autodafee Scne I was missing an importent detail
. They are assmbled to celebrate the burning of the witches, That is the finale highlight of the scene. The audience dont understand that. the little bit of read light put on the choir in the end, dont illustrate the fire good enough. This lightning detailcould be stronger.  Light is by Patrick Marie Aubert.

To me the scenography by Tobias Hoheisel was a bit too simple, but it functioned well. I didnt understand why they during the play are sliding away the back wall and showing something of a scenery looking like the view as from the top of Mount Saint Michel? As it has notthing to do with that place. But that was perhaps the intension that we should feel the dreams hidden in the text? The costumes too by Tobias Hoheisel was good for the female soloists. I found a style mixture which confused me. When the whole choir is on stage for the first time in the Autodafee scene, they had to me the effect of an entertaining scene from The Merry Wiwes of Windsor, and then Posa is coming on stage in a wonderful costume right for the periode, where we are. But in other scenes the clothing was strange for the mens. The outfits for the Court Ladies in the Garden scene were not succesfully in that turquisegreen colour with such strange hats, that I couldnt place from where it came. But I enjoyed their choreography very much, that was elegant, and gave a good spanish atmosphaere. Unfortunately no choreographer is mentioned in the programme, but it might be from Michel Jankeliovitch or Graham Vicks.

Lately I have seen several times the Don Carlos in Oslo, who is a cooproduction with Covent Garden and the Met, and these are like day and night with this one in Paris. The production in Oslo is much better. And inclusive the beautiful Fontainebleu scene.

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