Performance versions (or version control, as technology people might say) are quite the topic of discussion where Don Carlo(s) is concerned! In addition to the original 1867 Paris version, there is the 1884 version in Italian translation with which we are most familiar (which includes revisions by Mr. Verdi, including the removal of the first act from the five-act version), as well as various other authorized and unauthorized versions in Italian and French. In his excellent program notes Will Crutchfield, Director of Opera at Caramoor, took great pains to make clear the 1884 version is an Italian translation, and there is no "Italian version". All of Verdi's composition for Don Carlo(s) was to the original French text. The version performed at Caramoor is most closely aligned to the 1884 La Scala version, but in the original French. (As with most operas by highly skilled composers for the voice, the original language is much more singable than even very well executed translations.)
Photo: Christian Pollard
Photo: Kristin Hoebermann
Eboli was sung by Jennifer Larmore. Some find her voice a bit light for this role, and at the Met it might be. In this setting I did not find it so. I enjoyed the zest that Ms. Larmore brought to her role, embracing Eboli's apparent mean-girl character but showing Eboli's real remorse upon recognizing how her actions affect others. Never did I hear any suggestion of vocal discomfort, as one might if she were singing a role that doesn't fit her voice. While the football-field size opera houses might not hire Ms. Larmore for this role, I do hope she will sing it often in other theaters, for I think she sang beautifully.
|(c) James Valenti|
Photo: William Bichara
Jennifer Check was Elisabeth de Valois. Her accomplishments include Lady Macbeth, Norma, Agathe, the Marschallin, Madame Lidoine, and Lady Billows. This is a large voice, and who can tell what even more ambitious roles are in Ms. Check's future? Although an audience favorite, and a singer of great musicianship and skill, Ms. Check's singing to me lacked a warmth at times I wanted to hear.
I would be remiss in my duties if I failed to mention Young Artist Jeffrey Beruan, bass, who sang the monk who reveals himself to be the still living Charles V.
I regret that Caramoor no longer has two or more performances of the operas they produce. I would gladly recommend hearing subsequent performances of this cast and this production.