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on 19 June 2013
Of all DON CARLOs released on DVD, this is my favourite. A reviewer on the US site complains that Lima 'overacts' Carlo's neurosis: the historical character being even worse in this respect, the Argentinian tenor's portrayal (in addition to exquisite phrasing and an impeccably long breath) is a most affecting one (no Carlo on any other DVD possesses such athletic body language, especially those rich facial expressions - he sheds tears, gasps for breath, kneels, rolls over, and falls down convincingly, and at exactly the right moments). If Cotrubas and Baglioni look old as Elisabetta and Eboli, their vocal performance more than compensates. Zancanaro's acting has been unfairly condemned as rudimentary, which for me isn't true; and, vocally, his noble Posa is superior to Gobbi's (his predecessor in this production first seen in 1958 with Giulini): I hold the same view of Vickers' Carlo, no match for Lima's. Someone called Lloyd's Filippo a 'caricature': I don't see any of that here (his 2004 Amsterdam performance under Chailly is no less admirable). Rouleau's theatrical presence as the Grand Inquisitor (his eyes are terrifying) makes you forget that, vocally, he's past his prime. For 1985, picture and sound are really good, but (as with other Warner DVDs) the English subtitles are parsimonious (many phrases being deleted in favour of concise translations). As an almost complete text of the 5-act version (the tiny cuts are slightly annoying for a completist like myself), superbly conducted by Haitink, and well supported with the ROH chorus, this is an unmissable document captured at Covent Garden's old house.
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on 18 March 2008
Of all DON CARLOs released on DVD, this is my favourite. A reviewer on the US site complains that Lima 'overacts' Carlo's neurosis: the historical character being even worse in this respect, the Argentinian tenor's portrayal (in addition to exquisite phrasing and an impeccably long breath) is a most affecting one (no Carlo on any other DVD possesses such athletic body language, especially those rich facial expressions - he sheds tears, gasps for breath, kneels, rolls over, and falls down convincingly, and at exactly the right moments). If Cotrubas and Baglioni look old as Elisabetta and Eboli, their vocal performance more than compensates. Zancanaro's acting has been unfairly condemned as rudimentary, which for me isn't true; and, vocally, his noble Posa is superior to Gobbi's (his predecessor in this production first seen in 1958 with Giulini): I hold the same view of Vickers' Carlo, no match for Lima's. Someone called Lloyd's Filippo a 'caricature': I don't see any of that here (his 2004 Amsterdam performance under Chailly is no less admirable). Rouleau's theatrical presence as the Grand Inquisitor (his eyes are terrifying) makes you forget that, vocally, he's past his prime. For 1985, picture and sound are really good, but (as with other Warner DVDs) the English subtitles are parsimonious (many phrases being deleted in favour of concise translations). As an almost complete text of the 5-act version (the tiny cuts are slightly annoying for a completist like myself), superbly conducted by Haitink, and well supported with the ROH chorus, this is an unmissable document captured at Covent Garden's old house.
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on 10 November 2009
I purchased this dvd firstly because it is a good performance of a favourite & wonderful opera...& secondly, I was there at Covent Garden the night the recording was made. I was rather squashed, high-up on one side of the auditorium so I couldn't see part of the stage throughout the performance...so it has been good now to be able view the action from a frontal perspective. However, my position was ideal for getting a full blast from the brass section of the orchestra, which under Haitink's direction makes a formidable impact in this performance.
Ileana Cotrubas gives a fine performance as Elizabetta, full of feeling & sensitivity...you cannot help but sympathise with her. Both at the actual performance & on the dvd however, I was a little less convinced about Luis Lima as Don Carlo. Actually, his performance is very nuanced when looked-at from the perspective of a detailed characterisation of the historical character, who by accounts was 'unbalanced' to put it conservatively! But I'd become familiar with the opera with the Guilini cd set with Placido Domingo in the lead role...& although Placido's performance as Don Carlo is perhaps less convincing from a psychological perspective, I do prefer the vocal performance & indeed conductor Guilini's direction & interpretation of the score as a whole.
Giorgio Zancanaro as Rodrigo is in impressive voice, with a portrayal full of sincerity. He made a great impression on the night but actually the hit of the evening in the auditorium was Bruna Baglioni as Princess Eboli. Her voice was fully tested by the demands of the role it's fair to say but whether she was on particularly good form that night I don't know.... but she put in rather a barn-storming performance & the Covent Garden audience was suitably impressed. Perhaps it was an amalgam of it being a Live performance... from a singer not of the first rank maybe but who nevertherless rises to the occasion & fills the auditorium with passionate singing. But in her performance of 'O don fatale, o don crudel' she got the greatest ovation of the evening!
Robert Lloyd was also in resonant voice as Filippo II but I found his performance in the great fourth act aria 'Ella giammai m'amo!', a little bit 'over-produced' & consequently somewhat less moving as a result. But others may feel differently...it's a matter of personal taste.

In conclusion, any lover of the opera will want to hear/see this performance. The quality of the recorded sound is good enough, the visual quality is 'acceptable' but as I felt on the night of the performance, for me it was a very good performance but not a truly great one.
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on 2 August 2015
This was a rather dated recording, 1985, and it showed. Also I thought the Don Carlo was not very good. Otherwise I thought it was a good cast and a reasonably enjoyable evening.
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on 24 February 2010
The production and costumes are not quite as good as the old New York Met. However, a great performance, particularly by Luis Lima in the title role, who simply IS Don Carlo! His performance in the final act is unmissable.
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on 7 February 2008
As a young opera singer I appeared as a Flemish Deputy in this production.
Seeing this re issue not only brought back happy memories of my first contract at the ROH but also it reminded me of how opera productions have changed in the intervening years. This Visconti production is true to the spirit of the opera and not once are taken away from the "reality" of Verdi's original theme. All too often we have opera directors who have little knowledge of the score and they tend to overlay the production with sensation and new interpretations which were never intended by the composer and librettist.
Ileana Cotrubas is a most sympathetic and lyrical Elizabetta. Her beautiful vocal line is sung with passion and great ease. Stylish and totally true to the character.
Luis Lima at times is a rather underpowered Carlos, however, he does have clarity and poise in the voice.
The Roderigo of Giorgio Zancanaro may be rather cumbersome and wooden as a performance but his baritone is full, robust, easy at the top and a total joy to listen to.
What can you say about Robert Lloyds Philip 11 ? The performance is beautifully anchored both vocally and theatrically. A great and memorable performance.
To see Lloyd and the veteran Joseph Rouleau in the last act duet is a gem.
This is surely a classic performance.
MARTIN McEVOY
DIRECTOR
LONDON CITY OPERA
CRYSTAL CLEAR OPERA
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on 28 June 2012
The DVD of this 1985 production of Don Carlo from Covent Garden is a welcome addition to any Verdi collection. Masterminded by Luchino Visconti with impressive sets and traditional costumes the production was filmed for video by the very experienced Brian Large. The sound quality is good and the picture quality acceptable although, at times, there appears to be some colour fading. As is now often the case with Covent Garden's historic productions there is no booklet but the sleeve does provide a full cast list and chapter headings.

The production is fortunate to have very good singers in the six lead roles. In what is a departure from the common accepted practice Luis Lima concentrates on the introverted nature of the hapless Don Carlo at the expense of heroic posture. In a role that demands that the protagonist is dazzled by the complexities of a great love the performer is suitably emotional. The tenor has obviously given his role interpretation a great deal of thought and his well sung performance deserves every credit. The opera, which is Verdi's most complex and grandest work, is in fact kind to its subject for the actual infante, who had only four great grandparents, was mentally unbalanced, seriously vindictive and like Elisabeth de Valois was to die in the early twenties.

Always very accomplished when depicting pathos Ileana Cotrubas creates a tender Elisabetta di Valois. The soprano is very impressive during the confrontations that take place in the king's study and in her long aria in the final act. The Covent Garden reliable Robert Lloyd looks every inch the part of the autocratic and troubled king. The famous bass duets between the king and the grand inquisitor are among the high points of the production. Here Joseph Rouleau creates a memorable example of ecclesastical tyranny.

In addition to Luis Lima there are two stand-out performances. Always a solid and dependable Verdi baritone Giorgio Zancanaro shares top honours with Bruna Baglioni. Zancanaro makes Rodrigo a genuine father figure for Don Carlo and the scenes together are very touching. Bruna Baglioni captures all the changing moods of the scheming, selfserving and finally penitent Princess Eboli.

After watching this production a viewer can conclude that Don Carlo and Elisabetta are two retiring people forced by the accident of birth to participate in the demanding complexities of power politics and at such an interpretation neither Luis Lima nor Ileana Cotrubas can be bettered. For those seeking a more robust definition of the role Placido Domingo is at his ardent best in the Met's 1980s version of the opera. My own favourite is the unorthodox offering of 1996 from Theatre du Chatelet, Paris with gold star performances from Roberto Alagna and Karita Mattila.

Trottman
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