Wednesday, September 24, 2003

[9/24/2011] Preview: "Don Carlos" -- Carlos is surprised by his old friend Rodrigo (continued)


Salvatore Licitra as Carlos and Lado Ataneli as Rodrigo in L.A., 2006

We've got two performances of the complete Monastery Scene, and then two performances of, basically, the Posa-Carlos meeting. Actually, we've already heard the "Dio, che nell'alma" duet portion of the 1964 Met performance, in the aforementioned March 2010 Don Carlos post; now we'll back up to hear the full scene, from Posa's entrance. (Since this is a performance of the four-act Don Carlos, it doesn't include Carlos's "Al chiostro di San Giusto solo. My original thought was that we'd hear the opening of the scene -- the atmospheric Prelude plus the Monks' Chorus, especially since the Monk is Justino Díaz -- and then jump to Posa's entrance, but we really don't need to hear the Met horns struggling that afternoon with the treacherous horn writing of the Prelude or the none-too-seemly Met monks' chorus, and in fact Díaz has a rough go at the Monk's none-too-easy solos.)

The 1961 DG recording, among many other virtues (including some of Ettore Bastianini's best singing on records), has a terrific Monk in Alessandro Maddalena (even if he and conductor Gabriele Santini don't quite sync their parts), maybe the best I've heard. In the 1958 Covent Garden performance, note that the Carlos (Jon Vickers) and Rodrigo (Tito Gobbi) actually start the great "Dio, che nell'alma infondere" oath duet (and the reprise as well) as if it really were a prayer rather than a college cheer -- for a really lovely result, I think, and yet with stinting on the tingle level in the climaxes.

VERDI: Don Carlos: Act II, Scene 1, Chorus of Monks, "Carlo, il sommo imperatore" . . . Carlos, "Al chiostro di San Giusto" . . . Posa, "È lui, desso, l'Infante" . . . Carlos and Posa, "Dio, che nell'alma infondere"
Scene: The tomb of Charles V in the monastery of San Yuste. A chorus of monks is praying in the offstage chapel. Onstage, a kneeling monk prays before the tomb.

MONKS: Charles, the supreme emperor,
is no longer more than mute dust.
At the feet of his heavenly maker
his haughty soul now trembles.
A MONK: He wanted to rule over the world,
forgetting the one who in the sky
guides the stars on their faithful path.
His pride was immense;
his error was profound.
MONKS: Charles, the supreme emperor &c.
A MONK: Great is God alone, and if he wills it
he makes heaven and earth tremble.
Ah! Merciful God,
compassionate to the sinner,
you will grant
that peace and pardon
descend on him from heaven.
MONKS: Let your wrath not fall,
not fall on his soul.
ALL: Great is God alone.
He alone is great.
[Day dawns slowly. Enter DON CARLOS, pale and agitated. The chorus of monks exits the chapel, crosses the scene, and disappears into the corridors of the cloister.]
DON CARLOS: At the monastery of San Yuste, where my grandfather
Charles V ended his life, weary of his grandeur,
I seek in vain peace and forgetfulness of the past.
Of the one who was stolen from me
the image wanders with me into this icy cloister.
MONK [rising and approaching CARLOS]: The sorrow of earth
follows us even into the cloister.
The heart's war only
in heaven will be calmed.
CARLOS: His voice! My heart trembles!
I thought -- what terror! --
I saw the emperor,
who in his habit was concealing
his breastplate and golden crown.
It's said that he still appears in the cloister!
MONK [retiring]: The heart's war
in heaven will be calmed.
DON CARLOS: O terror! O terror!
RODRIGO, MARQUIS OF POSA: It's him! Himself! The prince!
CARLOS: O my Rodrigo!
RODRIGO: Your highness!
CARLOS: Is it you I clutch to my bosom?
RODRIGO: Oh, my prince! My lord!
CARLOS: It's heaven that sends you to me in my sorrow.
RODRIGO: O beloved prince!
CARLOS: Consoling angel!
RODRIGO: The hour has struck.
The Flemish people call you.
You must help them,
make yourself their savior!
But what do I see? What pallor, what distress!
A lamp of sorrow shines in your eyes.
You're mute! you sigh! there's sadness in your heart.
My Carlos, with me,
with me share your grievance, your sorrow!
CARLOS: My savior, my brother, my confidant,
let me weep in your bosom.
RODRIGO: Pour out to my heart your cruel torment.
Let your soul not be closed to me.
CARLOS: You wish it?
Learn of my misfortune,
and of the horrible shaft
that has pierced my heart.
I love . . . with a guilty love . . . Elisabeth!
RODRIGO: Your mother! Just heavens!
CARLOS: What pallor!
You turn your eyes to the ground!
Unhappy me! Even you, even you,
my Rodrigo, distance yourself from me?
RODRIGO: No, Rodrigo still loves you,
I can swear it to you!
You suffer? You suffer?
Then for me the universe disappears!
CARLOS: O my Rodrigo!
RODRIGO: My prince!
This secret, has it been discovered yet by the King?
RODRIGO: Then obtain from him
leave for Flanders.
Silence your heart;
you'll do deeds worthy of you.
You'll learn among an oppressed
people how to be a king.
CARLOS: I will follow you, brother.
[A bell sounds.]
RODRIGO: Listen!
The doors of the sanctuary are already opening.
Soon Phillip and the queen will come.
CARLOS: Elisabeth!
RODRIGO: Buck up beside me your vacillating spirit!
Your star will once again shine brightly in the heavens!
Ask heaven for the virtue of the strong!
CARLOS and RODRIGO: God, who in our souls
wished to instill hope and love,
in our hearts you must kindle
a desire for liberty.
We swear together to live
and die together.
RODRIGO: On earth, in heaven --
BOTH: -- your goodness
can unite us.
Ah, God, who in our souls &c.
RODRIGO: They're coming now.
CARLOS: O terror!
Just seeing her I tremble!
RODRIGO: Courage!
[PHILLIP, leading ELISABETH, appears in the midst of the monks. PHILLIP kneels for a moment before the tomb of Charles V, then proceeds on his way. The monks are heard from inside.]
MONKS: Carlo, the great emperor &c.
CARLOS: He has made her his!
I've lost her!
I've lost her. He has made her his!
Great God!
RODRIGO: Come close to me,
close to me. You'll have more strength,
more strength!
CARLO: He's made her his! I've lost her!
He's made her his!
BOTH: We'll live together and die together!
Our last breath
will be, will be a shout, a shout:
We'll live together &c.
Posa-Carlos scene only
[from Rodrigo's entrance to end of scene] Nicolae Herlea (b), Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa; Franco Corelli (t), Don Carlos; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Kurt Adler, cond. Live performance, Mar. 7, 1964
[Rodrigo-Carlos scene only, in German] Heinrich Schlusnus (b), Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa; Helge Roswaenge (t), Don Carlos; Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Arthur Rother, cond. Broadcast performance, 1941 or 1944

The complete scene
Alessandro Maddalena (bs), A Monk; Flaviano Labò (t), Don Carlos; Ettore Bastianini (b), Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa; Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, Gabriele Santini, cond. DG, recorded 1961
[without track breaks] Joseph Rouleau (bs), A Monk; Jon Vickers (t), Don Carlos; Tito Gobbi (b), Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa; Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Carlo Maria Giulini, cond. Live performance, May 12, 1958


As indicated, we zero in on the Marquis of Posa's bold challenge to King Phillip concerning his policy of bringing "peace" to Protestant Flanders in the form of a bloodbath.

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