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Verdi: Don Carlos (Opera in English) Box set

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Includes FREE MP3 version of this album.
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Product details

  • Performer: Julian Gavin, Janice Watson, Alastair Miles, William Dazeley, Jane Dutton, et al.
  • Conductor: Richard Farnes
  • Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
  • Audio CD (9 Nov. 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B002Q1LK0K
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 321,717 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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Disc 3
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By M. Joyce TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 April 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
First of all, it should be pointed out that this is a four-act "Don Carlos" and is sung in English. This has inevitable advantages for English speakers, notably in the King's two dialogue scenes with Posa and the Grand Inquisitor. Andrew Porter's translation is, moreover, an especially effective one and the singers project his words with point. Here, however, lies a major drawback; the opera is less starrily cast than the Italian and French versions and some of the singers fall short of the ideal. This is especially true of the women; I was not at all taken with Jane Dutton's Eboli, while Janice Watson, so good in Britten and Mozart, does not quite have the vocal resources to make a success of the Queen. The men fare rather better; Julian Gavin is an effective Don Carlos, even if his tenor is strangely colourless at times, while William Dazeley fields a lovely baritone as Posa, despite lacking Italianate richness. The great scene between the two basses benefits from the involvement of two genuinely world-class singers; Alistair Miles is a fine King, even though his lovely voice has taken on a slight beat, while Sir John Tomlinson's somewhat rough vocalism is, for me at any rate, highly appropriate for the role of the aged Inquisitor. The recording is based on an Opera North production and the Grand Inquisitor in that staging, the always excellent Clive Bayley, is here demoted to the small but important role of the mysterious monk, which he sings with grave sonority. Under their Musical Director, Richard Farnes, the orchestra of Opera North plays magnificently and they, and he, are the true heroes of this recording. This would not be my first choice of a "Don Carlos", but if you want it in English or as a souvenir of the excellent opera North production, then you need look no further.
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Format: Audio CD
I was privileged to see the fabled Visconti production of this work at Covent Garden in the late 1950's and it has remained my yardstick for judging subsequent performances of this work.The catalogue is now awash with recordings of this once neglected masterpiece in French(the original language and in five acts), Italian in both four and five acts and now in English in the four act version. Aside from the exciting sound and orchestral playing this recording has little to recommend it.The male singers are adequate but the main drawback is with the singers in the parts of Elizabeth de Valois and the Princess of Eboli.Janice Watson as the former has the kind of voice that quickly irritates and Jane Dutton lack the pzazz for the plum role of Eboli( you have only to compare Bumbry and Baltsa in the part). Despite some irritating cuts, my first choice remains the original Covent Garden production under Guilini. Despite restricted sound, the only full version in French on the Opera Rara label is also worth investigating.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eloquent 28 Dec. 2009
By Todd Kay - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Well, why not? We usually hear this in the "wrong" language anyway. The edition performed is what DON CARLO/S aficionados ordinarily would call "four-act Italian." Deserving of the first superlatives is Andrew Porter's English translation of the Méry/du Locle libretto. Porter's text almost invariably lies gracefully atop Verdi's musical lines, and it is hard to imagine it being more comprehensive and reliable in detail, or better matched to musical mood. I do not hesitate to say there is more skill and sensitivity evident in this translation than in the Italian one we hear 90 percent of the time -- the Italian one is ear-familiar but has little else going for it. Porter's fine text is in the hands of singers, though, and it can't always be clearly understood, especially in choral passages and when a soloist ventures high. The lower-voiced male cast members make the most of their words, the Elisabeth the least.

There are no poor performances among the all-British/American/Australian cast, and there is one outstanding one: the baritone William Dazeley's Rodrigo. The voice is of modest size by the standard of recorded Rodrigos, but the tone is lovely, and it's a thoughtful, caring performance with great feel for character. His is a name for which I will be on the lookout in the future. The Philip II, Alastair Miles, is in better voice and/or more at ease singing in his native tongue than he was in the super-complete French-language DON CARLOS of October 2004, conducted by Bertrand de Billy in Vienna. (The latter is available on CD as well as on a DVD enshrining Peter Konwitschny's extreme-Regie deconstruction/send-up of the opera, for the adventurous or the masochistic, to taste.) In both performances, however, Miles's is a small-scaled monarch in the van Dam mode, with the character's sadness, isolation, and ineffectuality registering more than the majestic, intimidating, and volatile sides well served by Ghiaurov, Siepi, et al. The other principals -- Julian Gavin's Don Carlos, Janice Watson's Elisabeth, Jane Dutton's Eboli, the veteran John Tomlinson's Grand Inquisitor -- cover some range of lesser or greater effectiveness (Gavin sometimes sounds as if artificially puffing up to approximate a larger vocal size than he owns; Watson's vocal method often sacrifices intelligibility, and some rhythmic points with it; Dutton has more of the will than the means), but there is always validity and commitment in their work.

Conductor Richard Farnes impresses as an astute student of this score. He seems to have absorbed much that has been learned and communicated by the great maestri who have taken up DON CARLO/S since the work began to be reexamined as a Verdi masterpiece in the mid-20th century. The interpretation could be called "up to the minute"; there is nary an eccentricity, and many of the solutions of tempo and balance are model ones for 2009. The Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North deserve plaudits for their response, which is long on both force and color. Some familiar problems of recording this opera remain unsolved, but DON CARLO/S collectors should be old hands at adjusting accordingly. Most of us learn very early on that, for example, a volume setting that enables one to hear the distant monks' chorus (the first words sung in this edition) will make the tenor/baritone cabaletta intolerably loud.

The edition chosen is presented absolutely uncut, so we get the whole of Thibault and the chorus's introduction to Eboli's first scene; the D-flat-major interlude in "Io vengo a domandar" (here renamed "I come before the Queen"); both verses of Elisabeth's farewell to the Countess; every note of the auto-da-fé ceremonial music; the marziale section of Carlos and Elisabeth's farewell duet -- everything is in. The only prior commercial recordings of the *four*-act edition that come to my mind as being similarly comprehensive are both on EMI, Karajan/BPO and Muti/Scala. The former, with its staggering orchestral work and top-to-bottom luxury cast (Barbara Hendricks as the Heavenly Voice, Edita Gruberova as Tebaldo, and so on), remains the first choice for a four-act DON CARLO/S, but there is much to be said for the new set. Those wanting to hear the opera in English should be pleased, and beyond that, this is what a recording of a standard-repertory item should be. It would effectively introduce the work to a newcomer, and it is a persuasive enough performance to earn its space on the shelf of the collector.
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