Music and Vision homepage Jenna Orkin: Writer Wannabe Seeks Brush With Death - From the heights of greatness (the Juilliard School; musicians Rosalyn Tureck and Nadia Boulanger) via way-ward paths to the depths of wickedness these reminiscences will entertain and enlighten.


<<  -- 6 --  Roderic Dunnett    VERGING ON LONDON STANDARDS


Stowe's Don Carlo was in many respects -- like Dorset's recent Salvator Rosa -- well up to Glasgow, Leeds, and arguably Cardiff and London standards.

Don Carlo went through various metamorphoses. Already one of Verdi's mature operas (Paris, 1867), it reached London the same year, New York a decade later and belatedly, La Scala in 1884, improved and newly revised when Otello was already on the stocks; at which point the original Act I, the hunting scene near Fontainebleau, was finally jettisoned by Verdi.

King and chorus in the Stowe Opera 2002 production of 'Don Carlo'. Photo © 2002 John Credland
King and chorus in the Stowe Opera 2002 production of 'Don Carlo'. Photo © 2002 John Credland

Thus Stowe's version, based on Verdi's later thoughts, opened with the monastery scene, with Carlo, the recalcitrant grandson of Charles V, now living secretively as a monk in the monastery of St Yuste.

Here the monastery pervaded all, for Stowe's set, its pink, brown and grey stone a dead ringer for The Lion in Winter (crossed with Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral), and well enough designed by director Sarah Chew, dominated the entire action -- notably a horizontal set of steps whose varied levels were creatively employed. Aided by intelligent gradations in yellow-white lighting (presumably from Ian McKillop's technical team) this ominous, lowering presence set the tone for a highly charged drama whose battlements (not least when Philip or the Grand Inquisitor breached them) felt as ominous as Dunsinane or Elsinore.

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Copyright © 1 December 2002 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK


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