3 July 2011 | TheLittleSongbird
Terrific, especially because of Bruson and Nesterenko
I love Verdi, and I adore Don Carlo, story-wise and music wise it is one of Verdi's most complex scores but for me also one of his best. This 1978 production is available on CD, and as a production it is simply terrific.
Finding a number of clips from the production online, I found the costumes, video directing and sets of very high calibre, particularly during Dio Che Nell'alma Infondere and Ella Giammai M'amo, not so much O Carlo Ascolta where the setting didn't feel enough like a prison.
The orchestra are superb especially during the duet between Posa and Phillip and A Mezzanotte, and Claudio Abbado's conducting has real flair to it.
The performances are pretty much exceptional. For me, least effective was Margaret Price. She does sing beautifully, is very moving in the final act and has the top notes, but the singing itself could have been more dynamic, more pianissimos wouldn't have gone amiss.
Placido Domingo is overall very, very good as Don Carlo. Vocally, he is in glorious shape, with great attention to phrasing, dynamics, diction and intonation. My disappointment with Domingo was his almost non-existent reaction to Posa's death in O Carlo Ascolta, where he just stands there when I watched the production online. I blame the director for this, Domingo is an outstanding singing-actor in that he becomes the character he plays, but you wouldn't have guessed in this particular scene which was perfection up to then.
Yelena Obraztsowa is a fiery Princess Eboli with her shining moments being in the Veil song and A Mezzanotte. Luigi Roni is resonant and quite powerful as The Grand Inquisitor. However, two especially stand out. Yuvgeny Nesterenko is an outstanding Phillip, his duet with Bruson is superb and his Ella Giammai M'amo manages to be very poignant in contrast. His voice is of considerable power too, his high notes positively ring and his basso notes are both audible and secure in pitch.
The best performance of the night belongs to Renato Bruson as Posa. He has a rich, big, velvety voice, a great technique and as an actor in general he's not so shabby either. Bruson portrays Posa, which is probably ideal role for a lot of Verdi baritones, as noble, idealistic and loyal, exactly as I feel Posa should be. While vocally throughout he is absolutely spot-on, his O Carlo Ascolta is phenomenal and perhaps the most heartfelt rendition of the entire production.
In conclusion, a terrific production helped hugely by the brilliant performance of Bruson and also of Nesterenko. 9/10 Bethany Cox