Thursday, 26 January 2017

Giuseppe Verdi, Don Carlo - Bayerische Staatsoper München, Nationaltheater

Performance 22nd January

After the terrific Macbeth last month I saw my other Verdi favorite, Don Carlo, with a first-class cast. The version they chose for Munich is a mix of the several version of this opera. While being based on the Italian  five-act version it also features the famous ending from the four-act version. The production is fully created by Jürgen Rose and is really exciting and thrills from the first minute to the spectacular finale. Rose's production shows the complicated relations between the different characters very detailed and convincingly. The plain stage shows a dark big room most of the time. The room features many doors and also a big wooden cross and a jesus figure on it. It sounds very simple, but Rose was able to create extremely powerful images with these few things. The costumes on the other hand were historic and worked as a contrast to the simple stage very well. I really have to say that despite the long running time of the opera (4 1/2 hours including the break) I never felt bored at any time and the time just flew by.
The conductor Paolo Carignani seems to be responsible for all Verdi operas in Munich which is not a bad thing. Not at all, because he is definitely one of the leading conductors for this repertoire. He proved once again that he has an excellen sense for Verdi's music and conducted a thrilling performance. The Bayerisches Staatsorchester filled the music with life and played passionately with great musicality. A very important part in this opera is done by the choir, especially during the famous autodafé. The Chor (und Extrachor) der Bayerischen Staatsoper sounded wonderful that evening with great power and excellent balance.
Don Carlo features many different roles which sometimes only appear for a moment, but there are a few main characters. Anyway even the smallest role were performed appropriately and without any bad moments.
The small role of Tebaldo was sung by Laura Tatulescu who jumped in for Eri Nakamura. Her bright clear voice suited the character well and she did a solid job. Peter Lobert sang a very rough and imposing monk with a dark and reverend bass voice. He filled the auditorium with ease and it was really a powerful performance.
Another dark and dignified performance was given by Günther Groissböck as Il Grande Inquisitore. His powerful voice has both, the dark lower register and the powerful upper register, that is necessary for this role. He definitely gave a terryfying and threatening performance.
In the demanding role of Eboli we heard Nadia Krasteva who has a very sensual dark mezzo voice with a warm and flexible timbre. She gave a very touching and convincing performance, especially during her famous final scene and the very difficult aria "O don fatale". Only a few of the top notes seemed to bother her a little bit, but she did an amazing job alltogether.
Christian Gerhaher sang the role of Rodrigo with his flexible baritone voice. He sang with such elegance and musicality that it was a pleasure to listen to him. He definitely brought his experience with Liedgesang into the role which worked out very well. Only the death scene became a bitt odd an cheesy after a while, but that might be Verdi's blame.
The role of King Philipp was sung by Ildar Abdrazakov who gave a ravishing performance. His dark rough bass voice handled the contrasts of this character really well and especially the aria in the beginning of act 4 was impressive and genuinely touching. He did not only sing well, he also acted very convincingly and did a marvelous job.
Tamara Wilson as Elisabetta was a spectecular choice and definitely a highlight of the evening. Her strong focused voice has magnificently smooth transition between the registers and especially her upper register is bright and crystalclear while her lower register also has quite some power and a noble and elegant timbre. I absolutely loved every minute of it and especially the final cry "O ciel" gave me goosebumps.
The title role, Don Carlo, was sung by Yonghoon Lee who seemed to have a tough evening. His power is impressive and he seemed not to have any difficulties to be heard over the orchestra. However he seemed to have issues with the top of his range and some top notes were quite close to the edge of screaming. He managed the evening without any serious issues, but I had the feeling that he did not feel absolutely comfortable during the performance.
Alltogether it still was an unforgetable afternoon and a simply marvelous performance. Without doubt one of the best performances I have seen for a while and therefor I can give 9 stars to Don Carlo in Munich.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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