The beginning of December heralded the highly anticipated NYC MET Opera premiere of Verdi's Don Carlo. The MET certainly has reason to be enamored with this current performance (which they lovingly endowed as, lol "The Reign in Spain" lol in the top promotion spot on their website), as it was rumored to be one of the most powerful and dramatic productions in over thirty years, and as Anthony Tommasini’s review from December 2, 2006 states, “The Metropolitan Opera has not been able to present a truly great Don Carlo since Plácido Domingo in the early 1980s.”
Since living here in “Verdi Country”, I can tell you that many opera-lovers in Italy have a general hard-on for Don Carlo. The critics and fans in the United States have panned it so many times in the past, and it remains one of the most unpopular and unappreciated Verdi operas. The critical laments are that melodies are too few and far in-between, the opera lacks juicy tenor arias, and there is boring dialogue between the male characters.
But that has been rectified by the MET with the stellar cast for the December run of Don Carlo. With Jimmy at the helm for a full four hours and thirty-five minutes, Don Carlo boasts:
Elisabeth de Valois: Patricia Racette
Eboli: Olga Borodina
Don Carlo: Johan Botha
Rodrigo: Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Philip II: René Pape
Don Basilio: Samuel Ramey
The only defect that could mar the cast is Botha’s acting skills for Don Carlo. I just can't imagine that he will be able to stack-up to the overwhelmingly impressive cast, including Racette’s lovely acting, Hvorostovsky’s icy scowl, and Pape’s demonic swagger (sorry, but I saw him in the MET Gounod's Faust last year as Méphistopélès and will forever now associate him with teh 666 devil 666). So for the duration of performances, here are the key questions:
Will Ramey have his wobble? Will Botha lumber his way woodenly across the stage? Will Jimmy lose the tempi? Will Bordina be able to hit the high notes?
Recently reviewed from the boys at wellsung and also by maury, it seems that some of my suspicions were affirmed. However, I still really wish I had coordinated a Christmas visit to NYC, but will instead wait for my vicarious adventures via more reviews. So I therefore beg of you who are in the vicinity of New York City: VAI VAI VAI! Pleeeeeeeze! Go! Now! ;)
(For hi-res images of the pictures above, go here to the Opera Chic flickr page)