Saturday 25 March 2006

Don Carlos

Building a Library on BBC Radio 3 this morning covered all the available versions of Verdi's Don Carlos, Italian and French, 4 Act and 5 Act. The reviewer's ultimate conclusion was impeccable, he chose the Pappano recording which is the only adequate studio recording in French. Whilst navigating the different versions of the opera, there was an essential point that he neglected to make, probably through time. The BBC recording conducted by John Matheson (just released on Opera Rara) is not just the fist recording in French, it is a recording of the Original score as performed in Paris, with some of the cuts opened up. Whereas the Pappano version is basically Verdi's revision from the 1880's, but sung in French and with some of the cuts opened up. Where Verdi revised a passage from the 1867 version for the 1882/84 version, this latter revision is the one performed by Pappano. Matheson performs the 1867 score.

This variance of the opera has allowed conductors to play fast and loose with the edition of Don Carlos. This should not be the case, if you want to perform Verdi's final thoughts then do the 5-act Modena version in French. Otherwise do the 1867 Paris version in French. Don't to the 5-act Moden version, and then intercut bits of earlier Verdi. This is something which, to me, is essential and I feel should have been made clear in the radio broadcast.

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