WORKS: Don Carlo (1886 Modena edition)
PERFORMER: Galina Gorchakova, Olga Borodina, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Roberto Scandiuzzi, Richard Margison; ROH Chorus & Orchestra/Bernard Haitink
CATALOGUE NO: 454 463-2
Don Carlo is a musical jigsaw to which no definitive solution exists and, last summer, the Royal Opera bravely offered two versions of the piece. At Covent Garden they staged the original 1867 French grand opéra, and at the Proms gave a concert performance of the 1886 Modena edition recorded here, just after putting it ‘in the can’.
The conductor, chorus and orchestra were common to both ventures, but different sets of principals emphasised the different flavour of the French and Italian versions. Here the cast includes no fewer than three Russians, with Galina Gorchakova playing the tragic Elisabeth. She is disappointing as the young woman of the opening, singing without the freshness and flexibility required and with woolly diction, but makes more in the later acts of the statuesque queen full of suppressed emotion. Olga Borodina is a seductive, lively Eboli whose singing is a highlight of the set, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky gives one of his best performances as a dark-toned Posa. In the title role Richard Margison is adequate but colourless, and Roberto Scandiuzzi (Philip) and Robert Lloyd (Inquisitor) are solid. Bernard Haitink’s careful conducting underlines the darker side of the opera, but at times in this magnificent music he is a little staid. John Allison