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23 sept. 2009


De Rolando Villazón como Don Carlo hemos hablado muy poco o nada en este blog. Hoy pongo el primero de dos post consecutivos sobre ello: éste es una colaboración que nos ha enviado Liz, sobre el DVD Don Carlo (Amsterdam 2004) y el próximo post, sobre el Don Carlo de la ROH, en 2008.

Don Carlo (Italian 4-act). Amsterdam Opera 2004. 
Produción: Willy Decker
Rolando Villazón (Carlo)
Robert Lloyd (Filippo)
Amanda Roocroft (Elisabetta)
Violeta Urmana (Eboli)
Dwayne Croft (Posa)
Jaakko Ryhänen (Inquisitor)
Director: Riccardo Chailly
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Chorus Nederlandse Opera



My first impression was of the look of the production. It is just so drab! The scenery (such as it is) and all of the costumes are grey. The three principals, Carlo, Filippe and Elisabetta are dressed in a paler grey than the other characters (to emphasise that they are the Royal Family?). Apart from the red (blood red?) of the Grand Inquisitor’s outfit the look is of unrelieved grey. The set is narrow, high and very confining and does convey well the rigidity claustrophobia of the Spanish Court. (I may be shallow but as a fan of the Zefferelli approach to opera sets I did long for some colour and spectacle!).

As for the performances I thought the standard varied. Leaving aside the debate as to whether he was wise to sing such a role, Rolando Villazon is hugely impressive in the title role. I believe he sings it with great insight and delicacy - ok so I’m biased! His phrasing is perfect. His first aria is critical to our understanding of the opera as the original first act set in Fontainebleau is omitted in this version. It is an immense challenge to launch into such a difficult piece of music without any opportunity to warm up the voice and Rolando handled it superbly. The duet with Rodrigo (also very well played by Dwayne Croft) which follows is just incredibly beautiful. On the down side I was not so keen on Rolando’s acting of this character. He was just too twitchy for my liking, looking at times as though he was auditioning for Hamlet! I can only suppose he had been given some heavy handed direction as he is generally much more subtle.

Although Carlo is the title role, in many ways Filippo is the central character. A nice piece of mime with Carlo at the beginning establishes him as the “father from hell”. Robert Lloyd is very convincing in the role having great stage presence and he evokes a range of emotions from fear to pity (his aria lamenting his wife’s lack of love for him is very poignant). His scene with the Grand Inquisitor is very powerful and sets out the conflict between Filippo’s position both as a father and as a ruthless king determined to hold onto power. It also explores the ideological debate, Church versus State. This is the first Italian opera I have seen which explores ideas as well as emotions.

As for the female characters I thought Eboli played by Violeta Urmana was excellent, she has a great voice and presence – though I did think that Don Carlo badly needed a pair of spectacles if he mistook her for Elisabetta! 

I was not as keen on the performance of Amanda Croft as Elisabetta. I found her voice very shrill when she stretched for high notes. She was also burdened not only her drab costume but also by horrible make up. We can see from the “behind the scenes” part of the DVD that she is in fact pretty but her makeup makes her look 10 years older and ugly! 

As far as I am concerned there is one outright star of this opera – VERDI! I was completely overwhelmed by the magnificence of the music and the masterly control of such an immense subject. So much so that I have now ordered a copy of the French version (with Alagna?) and bought tickets for the Covent Garden production in September (with Jonas Kaufman). In the meantime I will be watching this version again for the glorious music and of course Rolando!!!

Thanks, Liz !

del Bonus DVD

video teresa59 

Io l'ho perduta

video Oneguin65

Duet final

video Oneguin65


10 comentarios:

  1. anava a comentar-te una cosa però millor ho deixo per quan hi hagin uns quants comentaris més seriosos. Es que soc tímida....

  2. catherine la parisienne23/9/09 22:02

    W. Decker qui a conçu la mise en scène de ce Don Carlo (puis celle de la célébrissime Traviata avec Anna et Rolando) a mélangé des éléments modernes à des costumes vieillots et peu seyants -(Rolando n'y parait pas vraiment à l'aise...)-mais musicalement la production est effectivement intéressante. La performance de Rolando est magnifique et l'on regrette que son "Elizabeth" semble souvent en grande difficulté.
    Merci pour ce bonus où Rolando, une fois encore, montre tout son enthousiasme.
    J'espère qu'un jour prochain, Opus Arte publiera le DVD du dernier Don Carlo de Rolando au ROH; la mise en scène, reprise ces jours-ci avec J. Kaufmann,devrait être un beau spectacle.

  3. Merci Liz pour ta très belle chronique. Je pense aussi que le décor est très froid,glacial, les costumes des hommes un tant soit peu ridicules.
    Rolando est fantastique,pauvre Infant, comme un agneau perdu dans une horde de loups.
    Je ne me lasse pas du 'io lho perduta" et ainsi que du duo avec Rodrigo.
    personnellement je trouve que ce role est trop lourd, dangereux pour sa voix.
    Ce qui serait intéressant c'est de voir la dernière interprétation qu'il a eu de ce rôle, avec quelques années de plus.
    J'avoue que c'est l'oeuvre qui me stresse le plus; Le drame est présent dès les premières minutes et ce jusqu'à la fin.
    Mais que la musique est belle et bien dirigée par R Chailly.
    J'attends avec impatience les commentaires de Liz sur la version avec Kaufmann.

  4. Estrelleta Verdiales, com que ets tan tímida, ja ho dic jo per tú...els leotardos blans li queden fatal al NEN! i la tercera foto que he posat, la del fons blau, es horrorosa, sembla que enlloc de estar patint estigui fent una altra cosa...era això? ah, i la foto que está davant de la Urmana, també té tela!

  5. First things first: Teresa, I, too am simply horrified at his costume! How can a costume designer put such a beautiful creature in something so ridiculous? An absolute crime!

    Liz, I agree that "twitchy" is a great way to describe his acting, but I think the direction led him astray here.

    Yet, even as he swings wildly from one big emotion to the next, I adore his daring and willingness to give everything.

    And no one, no one, no one moves me like Rolando. His devastation is so complete it leaves you shattered and breathless. I would love to see the 2008 ROH version!

  6. A mi en lo particular me gusta ésta versión, si, es deprimente en cuanto a los colores y el ambiente casi espectral que Decker quiso imprimirle. Pero creo que es ya su sello personal no hacer nada convencional.

    Me agrada porque se hizo más hincapié en los conflictos emocionales de los personajes, no distrayendose con escenografías más recargadas. Aunque aqui presenten a un Carlo casi esquizofrénico le permiten a Rolando una expresividad mayor de su cuerpo y de su voz.

    Es cierto que se hicierón muchos comentarios sobre si era o no conveniente que Rolando cantara ésta ópera, y algunos contradictorios puesto que los criticos siempre expresarón cuando comenzaba su carrera que su voz era demasiado madura ya para su edad y que podía cantar papeles más dramáticos. Por que entonces la extrañeza de que cantara éste Don Carlo?.

    Y Teresa te doy la razón, éste vestuario no le sienta para nada.


  7. Vamos por partes. En primer lugar, Thank you very much, Liz, your work is excellent.
    En segundo lugar, a mi me gusta la escenografía que Decker hizo para esta producción, obsesiva, claustrofóbica...pero que encaja con la tensión psicológica en la que viven inmersos los personajes.
    En tercer lugar, no me gusta el reparto. El triángulo Rolando- Roocroft-Urmana...ya lo he dicho en otras ocasiones y no quisiera repetirme, pero a Rolando le sobran señoras...Vocalmente a mi me encanta Violeta Urmana, pero no para hacer de partenaire de Rolando. E.Roocroft parece su madre, pero de verdad, y vocalmente tampoco me produce ninguna gran emoción.
    En cuarto lugar,yo creo que no és un papel para que Rolando lo cante muy asiduamente, pero, francamente, en esta producción me parece correctísimo.
    Y en quinto lugar, el vestuario de Rolando no tiene perdón!!!!

  8. Anónimo24/9/09 8:53

    Yo nunca habia visto esta obra entera hasta que hara como dos años me la compre porque la cantaba
    ROLANDO,y ya la he visto varias veces,si que es muy sobria pero el trozo del jardin que todas van negras y llevan las rosas rojas me encanta por el contraste.En cuanto a ROLANDO lo encuentro magnifico,
    aunque yo con el nunca le veo mal


  9. Anne from London24/9/09 17:36

    Thank you, Liz, for summarising this production so well. I do think it’s an interesting one and that there are lots of things to admire in it. In the end, though, I don’t think it really works because it focuses on one element – the relationship of Don Carlo with his father – to the detriment of all others. This Don Carlo comes across as a child in a man’s body, his emotional growth so stunted by his father’s oppression that there’s really no hope for him – and Rolando does seem quite often to be literally writhing like a worm under his father’s boot. I think it’s an incredibly brave performance – uncomfortable to watch, brilliant in lots of ways. I agree that he does overdo it at times, but I’d rather have someone who gives too much some of the time than too little all the time!

    But the problem with this interpretation of the character is that it undermines the love story. I don’t believe that this Carlo is capable of a mature, adult love and I find it impossible to believe that Elisabetta would be in love with this Don Carlo, who is like an irretrievably damaged little boy. And so the whole dynamic of the relationship is changed and it doesn’t fit with the music, which is the music of two people who are deeply in love. Also, how can Rodrigo possibly think that this Carlo is actually capable of becoming the saviour of the Flemish people? It’s inconceivable, and so it makes his sacrifice meaningless.

    I do think that Willy Decker’s Salzburg Traviata is amazing – he made me see that opera in a completely new way. But this Don Carlo seems to be one of those instances of a “concept” being imposed on something that can’t quite support it.

  10. Anne, I think your comments are really perceptive. This is a difficult performance to watch (I have the same difficulty with Rolando's Carmen in Berlin which is a brilliant performance but like warching someone tearing themselves apart on stage. I certainly wouldn't follow this Carlos to Flanders! I don't think Jonas Kaufman has cracked this one either(he fails on the love story and I'm not sure he is a convincing leader of men either, more of a pawn in Rodrigo's hands?). I think I need to watch a few more versions of this opera as I think its complexity makes it really fascinating).