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"This is DVD of a 1986 Salzburg Easter Festival live performance
and as such it has all the excitement and sense of occasion of a
real thatrical experience. Karajan, of course, controls the whole production, being his festival. The Berlin Philharmonic in the orchestra pit is something few recordings of this opera can compete with. Karajan conducts without a score in his usual transcendental manner. The total effect is crisp, powerful, dynamic, precise, tightly controlled and well detailed. His approach works especially well in the powerful climaxes, dramatic exchanges and the great assembly scenes. The finale of Act 2 (the Auto da fe scene) is superb.
The singers are what makes this performance so extraordinary and
memorable. The opera requires six top quality singers. Karajan,of course,hand picked them for the roles, using some of his perennial favourites and some newcomers.Agnes Baltsa and Jose Carreras plus Piero Cappuccilli are some of the perennials.
They are beyond praise. Baltsa probably "steals the show" with her wonderful voice and fire-eating, Callas -like dramatic and
emotional acting ability.Carreras, Karajan's favourite tenor, uses his voice articulately and with great inspiration. Cappuccilli,one of the great Italian lyric baritones of our time,
as Rodrigo, truly shines.
Ferruccio Furlanetto creates a deeply moving portrayal of Philip II. His great aria in the third act and subsequent exchange with the Grand Inquisitor are Verdi at his best and Furlanetto does great justice to it. Matti Salminen, the great Finnish basso, has
a stentorian voice and mighty presence-thoroughly frightening as the Inquisitor.
Finally, as the Queen, Fiamma Ozzo d'Amico, relatively lesser known, a young Italian spinto soprano, is equally at home in the
lyrical parts, but fully capable of dramatic outbursts. A beautiful woman, certainly looks the part. In her final duet with Carlo one can almost feel sparks flying between the two and
understand why the two were in love with each other.
Important note: This is the four act version, which has been used
successfully for over a hundred years. There are some minor cuts Karajan makes for the performance. E.g. Eboli's Song of the Veil is chopped in half, quite inexplicably-this way the song is incomplete and makes no sense at all! The CD set, however, is complete.
Not everybody likes Karajan. I personally prefer Giulini's more fluid and graceful style which gave him such resounding success in London. However, there is no video of Giulini that I know of.
Nevertheless, I can sincerely recommend this DVD, it will give
ample satisfaction. It comes on one disc, handsomely packaged with a well detailed booklet. The sound is first rate."
Solid All Around
David Cady | Jersey City, NJ USA | 04/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've always found Verdi's brilliant "Don Carlo" (here presented in the 4 Act Italian version) something of a curiosity in that the title character has so little to do. Everyone else gets moment after shining moment, yet Carlo, after a busy Act 1, is pretty much window dressing. Too bad when you have such a charismatic tenor as Jose Carreras in the role. Watching him in this live performance from Salzburg makes you long to see what he could have done with the original, Fontainbleu Act 1. Maybe it's just as well, however, considering Carreras's Elisabetta, Fiamma Izzo D'Amico. There's a reason you've probably never heard of her; her voice isn't bad, but she has absolutely no stage presence whatsoever. D'Amico pretty much wears the same sour, "what's that smell?" look on her face from beginning to end. I understand that Elisabetta's having a rough time of things, but a better actress could have found some variation in her portrayal. Thank God for Ferruccio Furlanetto and Agnes Baltsa, the two best reasons to get this DVD. (And at this price, why not?) Each gives a fierce, stunning, definitive performance; I cannot imagine anyone live or on tape who could possibly interpret these roles better. Cappucilli is terrific, a real throwback to the golden days, when opera singers stood on stage and SANG. He doesn't quite bring down the house as he does on other DVDs, but at least he's not mugging to the audience, as was his habit. The production director and designers make good use of Salzburg's cavernous stage, and von Karajan does very well by the score. All in all, this is a solid, no frills production -- except when Furlanetto and Baltsa are on stage, when they set off real fireworks."
A reasonable operatic experience
Spinto | ct | 05/08/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although there are some really wonderful things about this production of Don Carlos, it is far from definiative. My most bilious comments go to the stage direction. This production, unlike that of the metropolitan with Domingo and Freni, make no attempt to produce dramatic dividends. Leads stand near eachother and sing, cues in the lyrics for actions are ignored and the Chorus files in and out. It is left for the individual charachters to create their own magic with out the inspiration of a talented director, which was somewhat a ditractor. The singers, alhough somewhat old and tired, turn in some good performances. Carreras is Don Carlos, and he does alright. This performance sits in the very end of his vocal decline into operatic obscurity before leukemia hospitalised him in 87. He seems very intent and focused on his singing and forcing his voice to work, rather than acting. He looks down a good deal, and displays a forced focus which is not in the drama. The sound is very good on the bottom and the middle, but frayed, foggy and uncomfortable on top. This is evidenced in the passage Sire Egi Tempo Ch'io Vivo, where his voice nearly gives out on the B natural, in a ugly note. Dispite yelly and uncomfortable passages, he is a world class singer, with unrivaled phrasing and integrity. Fiamma Izzo DAmico is Elisabetta. She was unimpressive to me. he acting was not good, She merely displayed an unhappy scowl, and there was no attachment to Carreras's Don Carlos. Vocally she was average, with a credible top, but not enough to command the orchestra on the bottom. She was unable to overcome her one-sided portrayal. Agnes Baltsa is Eboly. What a rush it is to see Agnes. She belts as if she were in Les Mis, and flips between head and chest. This causes a hole to open up in her voice between F and C, where, when she doesnt belt, she get very little sound. She has some very irksome vocal passages where she sounds hoarse and scratchy, and seems on the verse of losing it in Don Fatale. But although the voice is chancy, it is also thrilling and visceral, and Baltsa knows how to be melodramatic onstage, so she adds much to the performance (If I were carreras I would have merely forgotten the princess and taken the wild Greek Baltsa) Thee real winner of this production is Feruccio Furlanetto as Phillip the second. His look, his eyes, were so convincing. His pain, his turmoil his rage were visible from the start. His acting is extrodinary which he carries through his incredible instrument. He rivals Giaurov, not in vocal volume, but in tonal intensity and charachterization, 5 stars to Phillip here. Cappucilli, does anything but mail in his performance, he is honestly vocal involved in the drama. But he sounds strained and tired in thhe twilight of his long carreer. His top has a uncomfortable strain, and the open snarl of his voice had become too much by this time. But his acting, and his portrayal betray his aging voice. The supporting cast is again good, and this is a great addition to the great Met production of around the same time also on Dvd."
A must have Don Carlo
Maria Cira Llamosas | Buenos Aires, Argentina | 12/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don Carlo by itself is one of the most interesting and refined operas of Giuseppe Verdi. Here there is a great cast with specially strong points in the Bass and baritone roles( Furlanetto: Felipe- Cappuccilli: Rodrigo - Salminen: The great inquisitor). There such a link between those three singers; expression, vocal perfection... Then we have a very well selected Don Carlo (Carreras) although for making the dream team i woulded chosen Placido Domingo for the title role. Carreras sings in a very good level, showing real Carlo. The two female roles are also in a very good level (Izzo D'amico and Agnes Baltsa). Baltsa combines an expressive acting (sometimes a bit exagerated) with an exelent vocal performance. Izzo D'amico is maybe less expressive, and her singing is very good, not at the level of a Mirella Freni, but I found it interesting. Von Karajan conduction is subtle, refined as this opera requires. His orchestra responds to the perfection that he (VK) demands and has no weak points. I highly recomend this version to every opera lover or interested about listening a great musical work. Levine's version is also one Don Carlo to watch, with Domingo, Freni, Ghiaurov, Furlanetto... Domingo and Freni make the difference, but Karajan conduction makes more sense for me than Levine's. "
Most likely my "desert-island-opera" on dvd
PhantomOfTheOpera | Norway | 09/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don Carlo was my first opera and probably because of that it holds a special place with me. I love this opera and José Carreras himself said in his book "Singing from the soul" that hard pressed and after much agony this would probably be his "desert-island-opera".
In this dvd José Carreras is playing the heartbroken Don Carlo, son of the king of Spain. The king has just married Don Carlo's beloved Elisabetta. They married to seal the peace between Spain and France. Elisabetta is still very much in love with Don Carlo, but of course has to deny her love for him, being married to his father. Carreras looks wonderful as the tortured Don Carlo and sings even better. There has been lots of talking about his voice being to "light" for this kind of repertoire. I find his voice perfect for this role. Instead of just blasting away in the arias and making Don Carlo sound like a warrior he gives us a subtle portrait of a heartbroken, young hero. His sweet, honeyed voice is just right for this purpose. In the duet "Io vengo a domandar" with Elisabetta you can see him hoping for a sign from her that she still loves him and he's totally deflated when she tells him goodbye. I also love his facial expression when he tells her that he loves her so much and doesn't care what happens to him. It's just spot on. Don Carlo and Elisabetta's duet where they're singing about meeting in a better world (Ma lassu ci vedremo) in the final act is heart wrenching. The two voices melt together just perfectly.
The very young Fiamma Izzo D'Amico (she was 22 years old at the time of this performance) is playing the role of Elisabetta. It's true that she has the same tortured look throughout the opera, but her voice is just wonderful. And wouldn't you also feel depressed if you had to marry the father of the love of your life? As I've mentioned before, her duets with Carreras are outstanding.
The now late Piero Cappucilli who possessed a very beautiful baritone is perfect as Rodrigo. He's a very involved singer and his death scene in the prison with Carlo is very moving. Even though he's dying his singing is really good.
The greek firework Agnes Baltsa has the role of Eboli. The scene with Don Carlo and Rodrigo in the queen's garden is wonderful. Her fury and her facial expressions when she discovers that Don Carlo is in love with the queen instead of her (as she herself believed) are priceless. She can belt like no one else to give the performance that extra "umph". But she can also sound heavenly. Later on she's giving us a fiery rendition of "O Don fatale".
King Filippo is wonderfully portrayed by Ferruccio Furlanetto. His voice being rich and dark can sound like a dictatorial king, but also like a vulnerable husband who's not completely sure whether his wife really loves him or not.
Matti Salminen who has a booming basso gives us a portrait of a really frightening inquisitor and he's certainly not a man to mess around with.
Even though it's a fairly long opera it's highly recommendable. I can't decide whether this would be my desert island opera, but it sure comes close...."