[Met Tour] CID:156680

Don Carlo
Boston Opera House, Boston, Massachusetts, Fri, April 13, 1951

In Italian

Don Carlo (26)
Giuseppe Verdi | François Joseph Méry/Camille du Locle list Italian text as translators?
Don Carlo
Richard Tucker

Elizabeth of Valois
Delia Rigal

Frank Valentino

Princess Eboli
Blanche Thebom

Philip II
Cesare Siepi

Grand Inquisitor
Jerome Hines

Celestial Voice
Lucine Amara

Luben Vichey

Anne Bollinger

Count of Lerma
Paul Franke

Countess of Aremberg
Tilda Morse

Emery Darcy

Fritz Stiedry

Review 1:

Review of Cyrus Durgin in the Boston Globe
Verdi’s ‘Don Carlo’ Is Sung for First Time in Boston by Metropolitan

The Metropolitan Opera Association last night gave the first performance in Boston of Verdi’s “Don Carlo” with a cast that was remarkable. “Don Carlo” is the one true novelty of this engagement, and it had been anticipated with much interest, both for that fact and because it had been staged by the Broadway actress and director, Margarete Webster.

“Don Carlo” originally was written to a French text which was a condensation of Schiller’s drama, and for the Paris Opera, it a produced there in 1867 and not long afterward was done in Milan in an Italian translation. The Metropolitan production, thanks to information from conductor Frits Stiedry, is based upon the second of the three versions.

“Don Carlo” never became popular and about the time when he was engaged on “Otello” Verdi extensively revised “Don Carlo,” omitting entirely the first act, which takes place at the palace of Fontenbleau in France. Accordingly, the musical texture of “Don Carlo” in this version is more in the style of Verdi’s “Otello” than anything else.

The opera itself is both broad and curious, truly big in its musical conception, and of daring beauty in many of its pages. But it fails manly because of the dislocated nature of the libretto, which assumes a good deal of knowledge on the part of the listener. It is also very long, and broken up into several scenes, which always give an opera a certain stop-and-go atmosphere. Another peculiar thing about “Don Carlo” is the relative unimportance of the female voices which really do not have much to do until the third act.

The story, since it is based on history, is somewhat less confusing than fiction, but difficult enough. There are two sides, political and romantic. Politically, Don Carlo, son of Philip II and Crown Price of Spain, wishes leniency for the Flemings, a procedure opposed by both Philip and the old Grand Inquisitor, who is 90 and blind. Romantically, the complications are that Don Carlo had been in love with Elizabeth de Valois whom his father married for reasons of state. The attachment had never quite worn off and when the Princess of Eboli (that lady of the black eye-patch) discovers it, she informs Philip, and there is trouble all round. Eventually Don Carlo is handed over to the Inquisition.

It is hard to say where the highest vocal honors went last night because we heard some magnificent singing from Cesare Siepi and Richard Tucker as Don Carlo. Francesco Valentino as Rodrigo (substituting for the discharged Robert Merrill) and Jerome Hines as the Grand Inquisitor.

Delia Rigal looked most queenly and Elizabeth de Valois, and made a better impression vocally than she had as Violetta on Monday night. But the ornate elegance of Violetta’s music is not the same thing as the relatively bare, dramatic type of Elizabeth’s music. Blanche Thebom covered herself with approval for her passionate singing of the Princess and Tilda Morse did nicely the short role of the Countess of Aremberg.

Once again Mr. Stiedry, officiating at the conductor’s stand, revealed the mastery over stage and orchestra which have brought him the high stature he now has. Here is a superb mingling of technic, theatre sense and sensitive musicianship.

Apart from the neat groupings of people in the cathedral square scene and in prison, “Don Carlo” looks much the same, in Miss Webster’s direction as most operas. But it was possible that there were not too many people upon the stage. This was less than the chorus’ best night, however, for they sounded strident. Rolf Gerard’s costumes are splendid and his settings, though far from opulent, have clean design and look good.

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