The Only Version Truly, Truly Worthy of Master Verdi!!!!!!!!
Mark the music lover | Virginia | 10/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I cannot put into words how marvelous it is to have what is in my opinion the supreme version of Verdi's masterpiece Don Carlo. Not even the word supreme does justice to this DVD. But before I go into the glorious details about this version, let me first address the problems with the existing ones. We have The Met's Don Carlo, Zeffirelli's at La Scala, Karajan's, and finally Pappano's at the Chatelet in Paris. The Met's version does have many merits, but Domingo's voice is unsuitably strained, Freni is not the best actress, they are just too old to convince me that they are young lovers. Louis Quilico looks as though he's about to pop out of his costume, and the sets and costumes have a certain low budget look. Grace Bumbry is really the only saving grace for this performance, and even at that, she could have been much more committed dramatically. Franco Zeffirelli's version for La Scala boasts sumptuous costumes and sets that unfortunately dwarf the principle singers who fail miserably in the drama department, especially Pavarotti who just looks ridiculous. Karajan's performance is sonically resplendent, but once again the sets and costumes look cheap (except for Eboli's) and the performance omits the essential Fontainbleau scene as did the Zeffirelli version. Once again the only real star of this show is Baltsa's fire breathing Eboli, now that's what I call a visceral singing actress. Lastly, the Chatelet version is very skimpy on the necessary visual aspects of the piece, and Alagna as Carlo is a terribly one-dimensional actor. Fortunately the rest of the cast is first rate in the highest sense of the word. How happy I was when this DVD version by Italian cinematic master Luchino Visconti (who mentored Zeffirelli) was released. First of all the costuming and sets are sumptuous without swallowing up the singers. Visconti was a notorious perfectionist in the recreation of historical periods of high culture right down to the manner in which a lady wore her hat and carried her fan. As far as I am concerned Luis Lima ought to be giving Master Classes to Domingo on how this role should be sung and interpreted. I have never seen a Don Carlo that brought me to tears and allowed me to experience the same whirlwind of emotions in a 3 1/2 hour time span. Cotrubas sings beatifully with aching limpid tone. Although her voice does not possess the heft normally associated with the role of Elisabetta, her voice convinces you that you are not listening to an older woman, but an innocent teenage bride about to marry a man old enough to be her grandfather. Baglioni's Eboli is a revelation, bitchy, aristocratic, and vindictive. Her voice is that of a very high mezzo in fact. Lloyd as Philip II is earth shatteringly potent as are the remainder of the cast. My final praise must go to the absolutely gorgeous stentorian singing of Zancanaro as Roderigo. He will remain my benchmark for all other interpreters of this role. Bernard Haitink conducts brilliantly taking his time to revel in the luscious melodies of the score. When you have exceptionally gifted singing actors who are opulently costumed and look every bit the part that they are portraying so much so that you begin to see them as the literal figures from the history pages, there simply is no other that can compare. Make this THE Don Carlo to own. It ranks with Caballe's Norma, Norman's Oedipus Rex, Mitterand's Butterfly, Ewing's Salome, Pendatchanska's Roberto Devereaux, Zeffirelli's Tosca and Gardiner's Les Troyens as opera desert island DVD must haves!!!!!!!!!!!BUY IT! END OF STORY!!!!!!"
Legendary production; powerfully performed
C. Harbison | Montague, MA United States | 10/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Luchino Visconti's famous Covent Garden production (originally from 1958, here revived in 1985) is now available on DVD--the sets are stark, the costumes sumptuous. Luis Lima is the most dramatic and moving Don Carlo on DVD; Ileana Cotrubas is a small scale but touching Elisabetta--tears well up in both their eyes in their final duet. The rest of the cast is fine, especially Zancanaro (Rodrigo) and Lloyd (Philip II). Picture quality is uneven, sound excellent. Haitink is a delicate but effective conductor of the full (3 1/2 hour) score. In general, the most powerful performance available of this most grand of Verdi operas."
Operatic acting of the highest standard.
Angus W. Grant | Melbourne, Australia | 12/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is something about Don Carlo that makes me continually buy new versions (I'm up to seven now)looking for new ways of enjoying this profound nd beautiful work. I was rather suspicious of Mark the Music lovers gushy review, but so delighted to find how right he was. I have never been so moved and excited by filmed opera.
Luis Lima's performance is extraordinary. His voice does not have the beauty of Carreras on the Karajan DVD and the tone can spread at times, but you are too busy being thrilled by his performance to notice. The acting is full of subtleties (his eye work is incredible)and passion, his singing musical and sensitive and his diction extraordinarily clear. He chooses to bring out the (historical) mental instability of the character which adds a whole new dimention to the drama. His reactions to other characters' singing are so convicing that they seem to be acting better than they are.
Giorgio Zancanro is not the world's best actor but he was one the best singers. This is an example of perfect singing. He weilds his hefty, granite like voice with security, a thorough understanding of Verian style and grace. Lima encourages him to produce the best acting I have seen from him on video. Posa's death scene, which is really not Verdi's greatest moment is sensational dramatically and musically.
Cotrubas' voice had such a limpid beauty, so appropriate for this role and she too acts superbly, showing a woman crushed by her hideous circumstances. The duets with Lima are intensely beautiful and emotinally charged and make gripping viewing. I'm afraid it will make you reassess many of the other operatic performances you own on DVD.
Lloyd's voice, presence and acting are very strong. The duet between Posa and Philip is exciting both for the convincing dralatic presentation and for the combination of two such superb voices.
Are there negatives? Well a few. The greatest music of the opera (the entire Act iv) is the video's least convincing section. Lloyd is a bit too musically wilful with the great aria and the duet with the inquisitor ( who doesn't quite cope with the upper register and tries to overcompensate) is not as thrilling as it should be. There are slight ensemble problems in the quartet and "O Don Fatale" is ordinary. Baglione's voice is beautiful in the upper register but her presence is matronly and the acting histrionic(Unfortunatley Karajan's Baltsa sets a very high standard). But these are small niggles when there is so much perfection to enjoy (much of it from the pit).
If you are a Verdian you must purchase this DVD."
A great but imperfect performance
Robert Baksa | new york state | 09/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of all the "Don Carlo's" available I have only seen the Von Karajan. But for starters any version which omits the Fontanbleu scene is out of the running. Verdi rewrote the confrontation between Phillipe and Elisabeth and the final duet between Elisabeth and Carlo when he made the shorter version without the first act. Unfortunately, all of these revisions weakened the drama in my opinion. As to the principles, surely Domingo is a better singer and actor than Lima but Lima is more appropriate physically, even though his "hamming" gets a bit silly at times. But Domingo may be the only asset in the Met version. Judging from comments on this site about other versions, the Met had some problems with the lower roles. In the Haitink performance Zancanaro gives a flawless performance. Others have faulted his acting, but though it is understated, I feel that his work is beyond criticism. He always strikes the right mood. Watch his glances at the other characters that he is not addresssing. He is always manley and subtle. As to his singing, others have commented on his excellence. To me, he is the best Verdi Baritone on DVD. Thanks goodness he did not stay a policemen (his first career, evidently) LLoyd has a gorgeous sound. And he is suitably imperious and mencacing. Some have complained about the Grand Inquisitor but he is supposed to be an old man. I, myself, find it disconcerting when I hear a young singer with a fresh voice singing what should be a old person. It doesn't work. Generally though, age bothers me less than some other reviewers. Elisabeth looks a bit old, sure, but Cotrubas give a very touching performance in a role probably too "big" for her. But contrast her with Freni. Between her vocal lines Freni is mentally counting until her next entrance. Cotrubas is in character every moment of the performance. The Eboli is disappointing although she acts well enough. The voice just isn't up to the demands of the role. Others have praised Baltsa but I found her Eboli in the Karajan unbelievable coarse. I think it might be remembered that court life, especially during the Inquisition, was a very sticky business. People would be more likely to behave in a restrained manner at all times lest a false move anger the people they served. This production, as conceived by Lucchino Visconti, is dark and brooding, restrained and subtle as well. After two viewings It emerges as moving drama which fits together in spite of flaws to form an absorbing whole. I feel that it totally serves the greatness of the work."
Luis Lima is Don Carlo
Capt. Ret | New York | 10/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 'review' is really a tribute to Mr. Lima. His performance alone makes the recording a treasure. He once said in an interview that he did not really like the role. For not liking it, he certainly is persuasive in performing it. Throughout the range of emotions: vulnerability, near madness, sorrow and renunciation, he remains believable. Unfortunately, not so his partner, Mr. Zancanaro, who sings Posa beautifully. But he has the annoying habit of using hand gestures to underline every musical phrase thus reminding the audience that he is 'performing'. In Posa's death scene he places his hands on Carlo's shoulders and I was hoping he would keep them there. But no such luck. The other roles, especially Mr. LLoyd as Philippo, are all vocally and dramatically convincing. It's futile to lament the fact that not all looked like the 'ideal' we might wish for."