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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Verdi’s 100th Anniversary Opens with “Don Carlos”

The Boston Lyric Opera honors the 100th anniversary of Verdi’s death with an all-new production of the five-act French version of Verdi’s magnificent opera “Don Carlos”. With music by Guiseppe Verdi and an accompanying libretto by Joseph Mery and Camille du Locle, this opera has a running time of four hours and 15 minutes, including two 20-minute intermissions. Showcased talents this season include the lead roles of Elisabeth de Valois and Don Carlos, flawlessly sung by newcomer Indra Thomas and Jean-Pierre Furlan.

Making her debut with the BLO this season, Indra Thomas shines as the reluctant Queen of Spain, daughter of the French King. Indra’s voice fills the Shubert theatre with the melody of love lost and the tortured soul. The multifaceted chandeliers glisten with the vibrations of each note, the audience hanging on the plight of these two lovers. Recently recognized by the New York Times as an artist “to watch”, Indra’s career includes many distinguishing international awards, including the 1998 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Ms. Thomas made her debut at the Met in another better known Verdi classi, “Aida.”

Additionally, this performance would not have been nearly so moving if not for the talent’s of Jean-Pierre Furlan. He last appeared with the BLO as Radames in the theatre’s own production of “Aida”, during it’s 1999 Egyptian season. A popular favorite in Europe, Jean-Pierre has a carriage and resonance that carries each character he sings. A tenor of great distinction, Jean-Pierre has an entire repertoire of roles in the most fashionable opera houses of the world. Boston is indeed privileged to hear him.

The story itself focuses on the political turmoil in France and Spain during the Spanish Inquisition (which, of course, nobody suspects). This is the backdrop for “Don Carlos,” a story of political intrigue and the struggle between Church and state. The marriage of Carlos and Elisabeth de Valois is tragically thwarted when Carlos’ own father, the ruthless King Philippe II, decides to take Elisabeth for himself. Thus, he sets in motion a series of events that will tear both his family and his kingdom apart.

Musically, this opera was a treat. People expect overtures when they go to an opera, that is one of the chief components to a good show. However, unless you’re Mozart, you’re far from perfect. Verdi comes close to this by his implementation of virtually no overtures. Where Mozart can deliver us an overture worth the price of admission, most composers before and after him pale enormously, or even worse, just plain suck. Verdi knows his limits and just leaves them out. This makes for a beautiful opera sans the opening overtures that tax your patience and make you wonder if they aren’t just filler.

While stage and set were somewhat spartan, “Don Carlos” was an amazingly worthwhile dedication of an evening. This comes as particularly high praise since my budget only affords me accommodations in the nosebleed section and I was forced to endure the national anthem delivered by an opera wannabe behind me in the preshow. For those who have or wish to develop an opera-sense, check out this or others shows during this BLO season. Additional shows to follow are “Resurrection,” “Don Pasquale,” and “La Boheme.” For more information, visit their website at www.blo.org. Allegra!