"This is a live recording (in clear mono sound) of the legendary 1958 Visconti production of the five-act Italian version of Verdi's opera at Covent Garden, a production which catapulted the British Royal Opera firmly into the international operatic circuit. And judging from the recording, what an amazing performance it must have been!Jon Vickers is in excellent voice as Don Carlo. His distinctive and clarion tone lends a sort of nobility as well as passion into the part, and he produces what is probably some of his smoothest singing ever. Gre Brouwenstijn's Elisabeth de Valois may not possess the ideal weight and vocal heft for the soaring lines that Verdi wrote for the part, and her phrasing can be a trifle bumpy at times (as in "Non pianger, mia compagna"). However, she is able to compensate these minor deficiencies with a beautiful tone and great depth in feeling so that her portrayal of the tormented Queen is both convincing and touching.Boris Christoff's Philip II is simply magnificent. His characterisation of the part is not only beyond reproach, it has set a lofty benchmark for all subsequent interpretors. Through his marvellous abilities as a singing-actor, he invests every word with meaning and integrate each and every aspect of the role into a three-dimensional character that comes vividly to life. His singing of the great Act IV aria is sublime and intensely moving. Tito Gobbi, in strong voice, makes an earnest Rodrigo. Like Christoff, he is the consummate stage animal and every phrase he sings is pulsating with meaning, energy and conviction. Michael Langdon as the Grand Inquisitor not only commands the sense of authority which is crucial to the part, he also has strong low notes and the requisite vocal colouring to set his scenes alight. He and Christoff succeed in making their confrontation both terrifying and full of tension - a virtual vocal and mental tug-of-war. Fedora Barbiera may lack the high notes for Princess Eboli (and she makes heavy weather of the florid sections of her Veil Song). Nevertheless, she attacks the music with verve (rather than finesse and sensitivity) and is, dramatically, a force to be reckoned with. Joseph Rouleau's sonorous and smooth-sounding Monk, Jeannette Sinclair's lively Tebaldo, Edgar Evans's secure Count of Lerma and Ava June's soaring Voice of Heaven complete the outstanding cast. The Covent Garden chorus sings with feeling and style and provides a luscious vocal backdrop in the crowd scenes.In the pit, Guilini and the orchestra work wonders. This is a finely-shaped reading that is suffused with passion, beauty and drama, and thus makes a most eloquent case for Verdi's sprawling masterpiece. They also provide excellent support for the singers, too. Despite the length of the opera, the drama and tension never sag and the musical interpretation and orchestral playing themselves contribute much to the triumph of the production. This is not only a document of great historical significance, such the greatness of the performance that it should not be missed by anyone who has an interest in Italian opera."
The best Don Carlo!
Anton Smit | Italy | 09/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with Vincent Lau's review, that this recording warrants 5 stars. His review is exhaustive, so I won't repeat all that he has said. Giulini's conducting is excellent. Gobbi is by far the best Rodrigo I've heard- his death scene is breathtaking, and the interplay between him and Christoff in their second act scene is as good as it gets. Vickers is in great form- a beautiful voice, combined with superb musicianship, and Barbieri's rendition is a pleasant surprise after her '56 recording, where she tried singing the role with many notes which were too high for her; here she concentrates on interpreting the part, and omits the troublesome notes- a fine interpretation. Brouwenstein doesn't have a large voice, and is sometimes drowned by Vickers, but nevertheless does not detract from the overall excellence of the recording. The sound quality is surprisingly good. I think that this is the best of all the recordings of Don Carlo."
Look for the new Royal Opera recording
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 12/17/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
This legendary performance has only been available on private (i.e., pirate) recordings in poor sound--the pitch on this Myto version is far form perfect. For anyone who wants to hear the official tapes, they have just been released by the Royal Opera on its own in-house record label.
I don't think Amazon will carry that any time soon, so for the time being let me say that I dissent somewhat form the raves already posted here. Giulini and the orchestra are magnificent. vickers is in great early voice, and yet as much as I admire this unique artist, his style is far from being idiomatic Verdi. Tito Gobbi is hard of voice but doesn't shout too much, and opera fans will already know how they feel aobut the fast beat in his voice. Christoff gives us one of his legendary roles--A Boris Godunov transposed to Spain as Philip II--but don't expect Italian style from hi, either. It hardly matters, needless to say. Fedora Barbieri is hard-pressed to encompass all of Eboli's high notes, but she and Gobbi are true Veridans. Too bad she sounds rather tough to be a seductress.
The real caveat is Gre Brouwenstiyn as Elisabetta. She, too, is devoid of Verdian style, but the big problem is her weak, rather gray voice and its hollow tones. One gets the sense of a soprano using her half voice during rehearsal; there's little passion or impact. She hits al the notes and she's never less than sincere, but in its rave for this performance The Gramophone critic uses the word 'aristocratic' so he doesn't have to tell the truth--Brouwenstiyn is close to insipid. With these cautions in mind, it's certainly true that this mono recording from 1958 captures a famous night at the opera for posterity."
La version mythique
Constantin Declercq | 09/12/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Jon Vickers est un Don Carlo étonnant mais royal. Tito Gobbi et Boris Christoff complètent le tableau (même s'ils ne sont pas exempts d'imperfections). Cette version est en fait surtout celle de C. M. Giulini : enfin un chef d'orchestre qui sait s'effacer quand il le faut. De toutes les versions en italien, c'est celle qui laisse la plus belle part au drame et donne donc à «Don Carlo» ses vraies couleurs. Le seul défaut de cet enregistrement est le son qui n'est pas assez satisfaisant dans l'ensemble. Le triple cd fait un peu moins de trois heures (version en cinq actes) et on a le livret avec le texte intégral de l'opéra. Les bonus sont un peu plus de trois quarts d'heure d'«Un ballo in maschera» (Bergonzi, Venise 1971)."