Tag: Poplavskaya

Don Giovanni / ROH 2008 (2)

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The ROH put together an extremely high quality cast for this performance. Their Donna Elvira is Joyce Didonato, who in general causes me to grin like an idiot whenever she appears on stage, and this case is no exception. Donna Elvira makes a grand entrance standing on a litter and followed by an entourage; she’s wearing a ragged-looking wedding dress, has a shotgun slung over one shoulder and surveys the scene before her through a spyglass, which she snaps closed in irritation at not finding what she’s after. “A chi me dice mai” is performed in a way that is perfectly of a piece with this entrance. Big and grand and ever so slightly weird. It’s great. DiDonato conveys the bizarrely humorous aspects of this character perfectly (this is evident again in the entrance right before “non ti fidar, o misera”).

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Verdi – Don Carlos / ROH 2008 (2)

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One other thing about the production. Unlike in many versions, where Carlos is hustled off into the tomb or otherwise ambiguously disposed of, here he really does die at the end, which I appreciated. It’s a little more satisfying than that typical nineteenth century ‘death but not really kinda sorta’ thing, like with Carlos being pulled into the tomb, or to take another example, the end of Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer where Senta is supposed to leap into the ocean and drown but also be spiritually reunited with the Dutchman. I’d much rather we cut to the chase and have dead people be dead. And here Carlos is definitely dead – after a sword fight he’s wounded, falls, and expires in Elizabeth’s arms. If he can’t die in that particular location metaphorically, he at least gets to do so literally, I guess.

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Verdi – Don Carlos / ROH 2008 (1)

For the record, this performance of Don Carlos is the Italian version and does not have either the first Fontainebleau scene, where the poor French peasants complain that life is hard, the scene later on in which Eboli and Elizabeth switch masks so that Elizabeth can avoid a palace party, or the ballet. It’s still five acts, but it doesn’t have all the same pieces as the five-act French version. Having thought about it, I think I’m rather partial to the five-act 1867 version in French. But I like the Italian one too.

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