Great moments in opera
Ferruccio Furlanetto Photo: Axel Zeininger
Ferruccio Furlanetto (Philippo II.), Miriam Gauci (Elisabetta de Valois), Dolora Zajick
(Princess Eboli) and Eric Halfvarson (Grand Inquisitor) produced great moments in the Don
Carlo performance of January 23, 2001, which comforted over some weaker points of the
evening. Furlanetto, who set highlights during the Verdi Weeks at the Vienna State Opera
also as Silva in Ernani and as Procida in I vespri siciliani, succeeded in a very forceful
embodiment of the between power, love, suspicion, jealousy, self-doubts and loneliness
torn Spanish king with his overwhelming bass qualities in the fortissimo as well as in the
piani and his sophisticated portrayal of the aging monarch in the acting part.
Beneath the skin went the duet of Philippo II. and the Grand Inquisitor, in which the
king has to realize that he has to bow his power to the power of this inhuman man of God.
The scene is one of the most gripping, terrifying and genius ones in opera history. This
is due to Schiller's drama, to Verdi's music, which lets crash on each other the great
black voices in this opera of dialogues, and to Verdi's librettists Méry and du Locle.
But, what would be the best score and libretto without the personalities to bring it to
life on stage ? Beside Furlanetto the credits can be given above all to the interpretation
and voice of Eric Halfvarson. When he comes on stage as the blind, by age and illness
bowed, embittered, but all power on earth holding Grand Inquisitor, taking the Pope
without doubt as visual idol for his portrayal, then it is no longer music theater. The
spectators believe to be witnesses of the real haggle about the fates of conquered nations
and individual persons like the Infant Don Carlo, the son of Philippo II., and his friend
Marquis de Posa. Part in the success of this evening have also the pearling, in the
heights very certain soprano tones of Miriam Gauci as well as the dramatic mezzo of Dolora
Zajick. On the positive side stands also Goran Simic as monk (Emperor Carlos V.), Tatiana
Lisnic as the voice from heaven and Renate Pitscheider as Tebaldo. The Vienna
Philharmonists realize the score in a pleasant way under the baton of Vjekoslav Sutej,
only sometimes they got a bit too loud compared to the singers. The historical, with
opulent costumes equipped production of Pier Luigi Pizzi, who was also responsible for the
costumes and the settings, can make enthusiastic also after having it seen several times.
Finally it comes to the weaker points of the performance. Unfortunately also in January
the Vienna State Opera was hit by several cancellations like at the end of the year 2000.
For Don Carlo it hit the two favorites of the audience, the tenor Neil Shicoff (Don Carlo)
and the baritone Dimitri Hvorostovksy (Marquis de Posa). Replaced they were by the
house-tenor Keith Ikaia-Purdy and the Irish-born, Italian originated baritone Bruno
Caproni. While in the first of the two performances on January 19 the duet of Don Carlo
and Posa totally failed in the first scene, the two singers went together much better on
January 23. In his portrayal of the infantile, through his puberty going Don Carlo
Ikaia-Purdy was very convincing, but less in his vocal qualities. The because of the many
cancellations very busy tenor sang with much effort and not very refined. Bruno Caproni
owes few baritonal velvet in his voice and has several times in the piani and the
recitatives problems to get across into the audience. During the evening both singers
improved and especially in the dying scene in the second-to-the-last picture, which
Caproni sang with a nice legato, and in the duet between Don Carlo and Elisabetta in the
last picture they collected some plus points.