Don Carlo

For the first time in 40 years, Vancouver audiences will experience the magnificence of Giuseppe Verdi’s spectacular masterpiece, Don Carlo, the emotionally gripping drama of a king’s brutal power and a son’s brash rebellion. With formidable orchestral forces, a massive chorus, and a powerhouse international cast, Vancouver Opera’s final – and biggest – production of 2013-2014 promises to be this season’s most explosive experience yet!

In war-torn 16th century, peace between France and Spain is secured when a French princess, Elisabeth de Valois, is given in marriage to Spain’s King Philip. The King’s son, Carlo, is shattered, for he is in love with her. When Carlo dares to defend the Flemish people from Philip’s persecution, he incites both his father’s fury and the mighty authority of the Grand Inquisitor. Believing that he has been doubly betrayed, Philip arrests Carlo and Elisabeth. In the dramatic final scene at the tomb of Charles V, a ghostly friar rescues Carlo from the wrath of church and state.

Spectacular on a grand scale while at the same time extraordinarily intimate, Don Carlo is one of Verdi’s most impressive works. The Italian composer creates gorgeous music for the monstrous yet very human king, the terrifying Inquisitor, and the heroic lovers.

Don Carlos premiered in Paris on March 11, 1867 at the Salle le Peletier, home of the Paris Opera. The story is based on two works: the poem Don Carlos, Infant von Spanien by Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1787), and the 1846 play Philippe II, roi d’Espagne by Eugène Cormon. The opera’s libretto (by Joseph Mèry and Camille du Locle) was originally written in French and later translated into Italian by Achille de Lauzières.

The opera features the real historical figures Phillip II of Spain, his son Don Carlo, Princess Eboli, Elizabeth de Valois and (the ghost of) Charles V. Though the real Don Carlo did die during his imprisonment (various conspiracy theories point to murder), the opera’s love triangle is believed to be a popular myth rather than historical fact.

The production and performance history of Don Carlos is extremely complicated; many different forms of the opera are still staged. Three of the most commonly performed versions are the original five-act version in French, an Italian four-act version from 1884 (known as the “Milan” version), and the 1886 “Modena” version that added the original Act I to the revised 1884 acts.

Verdi sanctioned and made some of the cuts and revisions, including the Milan version; others were done without permission.

Vancouver Opera will mount the Italian version, aka ‘Milan’ version, with the ‘s’ in “Carlos” dropped, in keeping with the Italian spelling of the name.

This thrilling opera blasts off the stage and into the hearts of audiences with a spectacular set, the sheer vocal power of 11 soloists, a 67-member choir, and 61 musicians in the orchestra pit. Don Carlo will be on the Queen E Theatre stage for four performances only, running from May 3 to 11.

Vancouver Opera Presents Don Carlo

Dates: May 3, 8, 10, 7:30 pm; May 11, 2 pm matinée
Venue: Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 649 Cambie Street, Vancouver
Tickets: From $40, available online and via phoning 604.683.0222
Approximate running time: 3 hours, 5 minutes (including one intermission)

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