by Paula Citron
John Caird’s new production of Verdi’s 1867 French grand opera Don Carlos is proof that opera should always be performed in its original language. At 4 1/2 hours, the opera flies by.
The contemporary set is Christian symbolism within a Franco-like fascist state which reinforces Verdi’s geopolitical/social commentary. In fact, Caird’s bleak vision acquires more resonance as the opera continues. Conductor Paolo Olmi finds all the drama in the music.
By sheer happenstance, I caught Joni Henson’s single performance as Elizabeth. This remarkable singer will surely have a glittering career as a dramatic soprano. Still young, her top notes need to open up more, and there was breathiness, but her voice is bright, clarion and thrilling.
The class act is bass-baritone Terje Stensvold as Philippe. Tenor Mikhail Agafonov is an exciting if uneven Carlos. Both baritone Scott Hendricks as Posa and Mary Phillips as Eboli are intense.
Don Carlos continues until Nov. 3.
From the Four Seasons Centre, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for THE NEW CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.