A thrilling Don Carlos in Katonah NY

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Billy George 2012

music review: Don Carlos.

Will Crutchfield has for many years championed operas he feels are unjustly neglected. This year, his sights have been trained upon the French operas of Verdi. Don Carlos was Verdi’s big chance at breaking into the nearly limitless funding at the Paris Opera in 1867. He tried his hand at grand opera using the work of Schiller as his foundation, and having his librettists write the rest in a style that we today would call creative non-fiction. This performance was at Caramoor in Katonah, NY on Saturday, July 20, 2013.

Verdi would have surely preferred better circumstances for his work to appear in the United States. Performed outdoors under a massive tent, during this season’s three-week heat wave, it was hot and humid.

Don Carlos at Caramoor 2013Inherit the Wind hot and humid, with hand fans (supplied by the venue) held and waved by the stifling audience. Eve Queler, the conductor, looked as uncomfortable as any other audience member, as did the redoubtable music connoisseur, Steve Orphanos.

If the performers felt the least discomfort, it was impossible to tell. The Orchestra of St. Luke’s performed amazingly well, and all of the soloists were of international festival caliber. As one audience member said, “There is not one artist on stage who is not perfect.” Jennifer Check, Jennifer Larmore, James Valenti, Stephen Powell, Christopher Stamboglis, and Mikhail Svetlov were the featured artists. Many of these fine artists were new to the audience, and so were delightful surprises. Mr. Valenti will be one of the Met Opera’s Pinkertons next season. Probably one of the tallest Pinkertons at 6’5″. Mr. Stamboglis was a faultless Philippe II. Mr. Powell’s Rodrigue thrilled us with his singing.

The star attraction which caused many to attend was the well- known but little seen in the New York area, Jennifer Larmore, whose Eboli was exciting, sexy, emotional, powerful, and …. I think by now the reader can tell I am thoroughly smitten by her acting, talent, and looks.

Ms. Larmore’s upcoming engagements read like a fairy- tale life for any mezzosoprano: The Barbican; Venice; Opera Bastille; Covent Garden; La Monnaie; and Berlin. She will perform in productions by Christof Loy several times, and with conductors Minkowski, Spinosi, and Pappano.

Her acting was realistic, never stagey. Her movements natural and lively. When she was part of a conversation, she listened. When she heard something surprising to her character, she was surprised.

Critics in the past have tried to discount her by saying she has a small voice. These ears did not notice any such thing. Ms. Larmore gave a thrilling account of Eboli.

The Caramoor Bel Canto Young Artists served as the populace, court, and chorus. Standouts were Tenor Noah Baetge as the Royal Herald, and bass Jeffrey Beruan as the Monk.

There was a lively afternoon of lectures and concerts featuring music inspired by Schiller. That will be the subject of an entirely different review.

For more information, visit: www.caramoor.org

 

music review: Don Carlos.

Will Crutchfield has for many years championed operas he feels are unjustly neglected. This year, his sights have been trained upon the French operas of Verdi. Don Carlos was Verdi’s big chance at breaking into the nearly limitless funding at the Paris Opera in 1867. He tried his hand at grand opera using the work of Schiller as his foundation, and having his librettists write the rest in a style that we today would call creative non-fiction. This performance was at Caramoor in Katonah, NY on Saturday, July 20, 2013.