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Definitely a Don Carlo to watch

Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
17 July 2011

I don't think this is the best Don Carlo, I personally prefer the 1984 Met production, the 1980 Met telecast, the 1986 production with Carreras and Cappucilli and the 1978 La Scala Production. Then there is Bjorling/Merrill/Siepi and also Vickers/Gobbi/Christoff to consider, these broadcasts/recordings are outstanding.

However this Covent Garden production is still very good. If there are two things I didn't like it was some of the picture quality which was rather grainy and the performance of the Grand Inquisitor, whose higher register seems strained and he occasionally over-compensates.

There are many things to like however. The costume and set design are exquisite, and while delicate there is real passion in Bernard Haitink's conducting. The orchestra are superb, particularly in the duet between Posa and Phillip, Ella Giammai Mammo and A Mezzanotte.

Luis Lima surprised me as Don Carlo. He has an extraordinary voice, and while he occasionally overdoes it he is quite convincing acting-wise and he has some of the best eye contact I have seen from anybody in the role. Ileana Cotrubas has a gorgeous limpid tone, and I can forgive any concerns about her being too old for the role or the role too big for her, because she proves herself to be quite a capable actress and her singing is fantastic especially in Tu Che Le Vanita. Bruna Baglioni is rather matronly as Eboli, but she is convincing enough, gives an excellent rendition of O Don Fatale and holds her own in A Mezzanotte.

My two favourites were Giorgio Zancanaro and Robert Lloyd as Posa and Phillip. Together in their first scene together they are riveting, and individually these two are brilliant. Zancanaro now shares a place with Milnes, Bastianini and Bruson as one of my favourite Posas. I think he is a strong actor, and his voice is one of the biggest and loveliest I've heard while having a lot of character in it. His O Carlo Ascolta is spellbinding. Lloyd I have always looked up to as a fine singing-actor and this performance is no exception(though when it comes to performers of the role my favourites will always be Christoff, Ghiaurov and Siepi). He gives a very menacing yet intelligent and moving performance, plus he performs Ella Giammai Mammo with real musicality.

Overall, a flawed but very good production and one to watch. 8/10 Bethany Cox

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