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ABOUT DON CARLO
This season kicks off with Verdi’s Don Carlo, one of the composer’s greatest operas and an epic story of love, jealousy, war, betrayal and death. Politics, love and family loyalties are tested in this epic battle of wills involving a tyrannical king, a despairing prince and an innocent young woman. Verdi’s tour de force tells the tale of powerful people who must accept their role as pawns in a tragic destiny.
There have been several iterations of the story of Don Carlo. Verdi’s version premiered in Paris in 1867 as Don Carlos, and was sung in French. It was later translated into Italian as Don Carlo. Don Carlo is often considered to be one of Verdi’s greatest operas, despite the fact that it has a darker tone and more complicated personalities than you’d find in many of his other operas, such as Rigoletto.
Don Carlo explores the fascinating conflicts between love, duty and friendship. While the operatic story is largely fictional, the characters are based upon real people – Don Carlos, King Philip of Spain, and Princess Eboli.
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Original French libretto by Francois Joseph Mery and Camille du Locle
Sung in Italian with English translation projected above stage
ABOUT THIS PRODUCTION
ALO Conductor Richard Buckley will present Don Carlo at the Long Center for the first time, in celebration of the bicentennial of Verdi’s birth. The sets and costumes for ALO’s production originated as a co-production among Opera Hong Kong, Vancouver Opera and the Florentine Opera. First performed in 2008 by Hawaii Opera Theatre, this production of Don Carlo marks the first time the United States, China and Canada joined in an artistic endeavor of this magnitude.
An Austin production, cast, chorus and ALO’s own orchestra will be led by stage director Garnett Bruce and Maestro Buckley, who will bring the music to life.
Maestro Buckley is a world-renowned interpreter of Verdi’s work, and this will be the third time he’s conducted this opera. We know you’ll enjoy this intense and masterful work!
Conductor: Richard Buckley
Stage Director: Garnett Bruce
Set Design: Peter Dean Beck
Sets and props are a co-production of Hawaii Opera Theatre, Vancouver Opera and Opera Hong Kong
This production brought to you by our generous sponsor:
The story of Don Carlo is based upon the life of Carlos, Prince of Asturias (1545 – 1568). Carlos was betrothed to Elizabeth of Valois (1545 – 1568), the daughter of France’s King Henry II. For political reasons, Elizabeth was ultimately married to Carlos’ father, Philip II of Spain.
Synopsis courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera
Carlo seeks peace at the monastery of St. Just in Spain, where he prays at the tomb of his grandfather, Emperor Charles V. He is confronted by a monk who seems to be the emperor’s ghost. His friend Rodrigo, the Marquis of Posa, arrives to remind Carlo of his commitment to the cause of the Flemish people who are oppressed by Spanish rule. Both pledge themselves to the cause of liberty and swear eternal friendship (Duet: “Dio, che nell’alma infondere amor”).
In a garden outside the monastery, Princess Eboli entertains the other ladies of the court with a song (“Nel giardin del bello”). Elisabeth—now queen—enters, followed by Posa, who hands her a secret letter from Carlo, asking for a meeting. When he is admitted, Carlo asks the queen to obtain Philip’s permission for him to go to Flanders, and then suddenly declares his continuing love. Elisabeth rejects him and Carlo rushes off. The king enters and, finding the queen unattended, banishes the Countess of Aremberg, who should have been present.
Left alone with the king, Posa bravely asks Philip to end his oppression of the Flemish people. Philip refuses but is impressed by Posa’s courage. He warns him to beware of the Inquisition and tells Posa about his suspicions of his wife and Carlo, asking Posa to watch them. Posa accepts the assignment, knowing that being in the king’s confidence will help him in the future.
Carlo has received a letter asking him to a secret meeting at midnight in the queen’s gardens in Madrid. He thinks the meeting is with Elisabeth, but in fact the woman is Princess Eboli, who is in love with him. When Carlo discovers her identity, he rejects her. Eboli, realizing where the prince’s true feelings lie, swears to expose him. Posa arrives in time to overhear Eboli and threatens to kill her but is stopped by Carlo. Eboli leaves. Posa persuades Carlo he is now in danger and Carlo hands over some secret papers to him for safekeeping.
At a public burning of heretics in front of Valladolid Cathedral, Carlo leads a group of Flemish deputies to Philip. The king rejects their pleas for freedom. When he also dismisses Carlo’s own request to rule Flanders, the prince draws his sword on his father. He is disarmed by Posa and arrested. In thanks, Philip makes Posa a duke. As a group of heretics is led to the stake, a celestial voice welcomes their souls into heaven.
In his study at night, the king reflects on his life with a wife who doesn’t love him (“Ella giammai m’amò!”). He consults with the old and blind Grand Inquisitor, who consents to the death sentence for Carlo: as God sacrificed his son to save mankind so Philip must stifle his love for his son for the sake of the faith. The Inquisitor also demands that Posa be handed over to him. As he leaves, Philip wonders if the throne must always yield to the altar. Elisabeth enters, having discovered that her
jewel case has been stolen. Eboli, who knows that Elisabeth keeps a portrait of Carlo in it, had taken the box and given it to the king. Philip now hands it to Elisabeth and demands she open it. When she hesitates, he breaks it open and finds the portrait. He accuses her of adultery. Elisabeth collapses and the king calls for help. Eboli and Posa rush in, he to express amazement that a king who rules half the world cannot govern his own emotions, she to feel remorse at what her jealousy has brought about. Alone with Elisabeth, Eboli confesses that she not only falsely accused her but that she has been the king’s mistress. Elisabeth orders her from the court. Eboli laments her fatal beauty and swears to spend her final day in Spain trying to save Carlo (“O don fatale”).
Posa visits Carlo in prison to tell him that he has used the secret papers to take upon himself the blame for the Flemish rebellion. He is now a marked man, so Carlo must take up the cause of liberty for Flanders. Posa is shot by agents of the Inquisition. As he dies he tells Carlo that Elisabeth will meet him at the monastery of St. Just and declares he is happy to have sacrificed his life for a man who will become Spain’s savior (“Per me giunto è il dì supremo”).
Elisabeth has come to the monastery, wanting only her own death (“Tu, che le vanità”). When Carlo appears, she encourages him to continue Posa’s quest for freedom in Flanders and they hope for happiness in the next world. As they say goodbye, Philip and the Grand Inquisitor arrive. As the agents of the Inquisition move in on Carlo, the Emperor Charles V materializes out of the darkness to insist that suffering is unavoidable and ceases only in heaven.
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Watch a video of the entire opera of Don Carlo, as performed by the Royal Opera House in 2008.
Don Carlo – James Valenti, tenor
American tenor James Valenti owns a voice of Italianate lustre which is continually compared to those of the greatest tenors of the post WW ll period: Franco Corelli, Giuseppe di Stefano, and Carlo Bergonzi. The much sought after 6’5″ tenor has built a global reputation for his elegant musicianship, commanding stage presence, and ardent vocal style. Mr. Valenti made his sensational professional debut on the stage of the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma as Rodolfo in the Franco Zeffirelli production of La Boheme at the age of 25. Since then, he scored one triumphal debut after another in all of the celebrated citadels of Opera, including Teatro alla Scala, Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House, and Opera National de Paris.
Valenti’s 2012 – 2013 season included a return to the role of Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor for his debut at the Sydney Opera House with Opera Australia. His demanding schedule continued with several concert performances across the globe, after recent appearances in Toronto, Copenhagen, and St. Petersburg, with further debuts at the Opernhaus Zürich, and The Lyric Opera of Chicago. Future appearances include returns to the Metropolitan Opera, and San Francisco Opera among others.
Elisabetta de Valois – Keri Alkema, soprano
In the 2012-13 season, Alkema performed with the Washington National Opera, Canadian Opera Company, New York City Opera, Teatro Municipal de Santiago, Atlanta Opera and Caramoor among others. Reviewers of her 2013 performances called said, “Alkema has a rich, full vocal presence that caresses the score to perfection” (Toronto Star); “vocally brilliant” (Musical Toronto); “brilliant, mesmerizing” (The Globe and Mail). See this video of Alkema in the title role of Anna Bolena, performed at the Minnesota Opera in 2012.
Philip II – Peter Volpe, bass
By the end of this year, Volpe will have performed with the Arizona Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Glimmerglass Opera and Vancouver Opera. Mr. Volpe’s inspired style and interpretive skill enlivens his repertoire of more than 100 roles in six languages, including signature roles of Don Giovanni, Mephistopheles, and Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin. Vocally characterized as “stentorian” by the New York Times, Mr. Volpe is consistently applauded for the powerful command and rich texture of his timbre. This will not be Mr. Volpe’s first performance with Austin Lyric Opera; see clips of his performance as Sparafucile in our production of Rigoletto from 2009.
Princess Eboli – Mary Phillips, mezzo-soprano
Phillips has most recently performed with the Metropolitan Opera and Dallas Opera, and she has sung the role of Princess Eboli for Canadian Opera Company and the role of Sister Helen Prejean in ALO’s production of Dead Man Walking in 2003. Phillips has won critical acclaim from the media, with reviewers describing her performances as “stunning…characterized by expressive, rich-toned singing and nuanced acting” (Austin American-Statesman); “powerful in thrust, has a smoky, dark quality that was thrilling to hear” (Opera News); and brings “gravitas and musical depth to the mezzo solo lines, singing with a full, focused sound” (Journal Sentinal). Hear her sing “O don fatale” from a past performance of Don Carlo.
Rodrigo – Michael Chioldi, baritone
Chioldi has performed at nearly every major American opera house including: The Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera, Washington National Opera and Los Angeles Opera. Internationally he has traveled extensively in Japan with Maestro Seiji Osawa, and has appeared in Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Macau and Spain. Career highlights include his debut at the Metropolitan Opera as Fléville in Andrea Chénier in a cast that included Luciano Pavarotti and Aprile Millo, with James Levine conducting. At Washington National Opera he appeared as Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia – a role which marked his first lead role after attending the Houston Grand Opera Studio. Preview his stunning talent in this scene from Tosca.
Grand Inquisitor – Gustav Andreassen
Norwegian-American bass Gustav Andreassen has performed with major opera companies and orchestras throughout North American and Europe, to great acclaim. For his recent portrayal of Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Opera News stated: “The extraordinary potent bass of Gustav Andreassen was all black tone – sonorous, distinctive, with fine musicianship and dramatic flair.” In the 2013 -2014 season Gustave will return to Toronto as Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Opéra Atelier, will sing the Grand Inquisitor in Austin Lyric Opera’s Don Carlo.
Why wait? Subscriptions to all three operas this season are just $48-$285. Subscribe now!