The new season begins with a Verdi Festival. A trilogy of Verdi Masterpieces for audiences to get their teeth stuck into. Beginning with Don Carlos - performed in the original and slightly longer French version.
For me the most memorable part of this production will be our fabulous costumes. I get to wear some incredibly comfortable blue silk pyjamas with a Pope style white pointed hat on my head. I sometimes find it hard to recognise myself when I see photos of myself in the production.
I love the music in this piece. I once had tickets to go and watch it at the Royal Opera House. I was sat in my seat ready to have my mind blown by this piece - when they announced that the performance was going to be cancelled and all tickets would be refunded! The soprano singing "Elizabeth" had been taken to hospital last minute and they did not have a cover available. I remember, feeling so disappointed that I could not watch the full opera. The Royal Opera House did put on a few small scenes and arias for the audience that didn't involve this key character. It was so magical to hear these clips. I felt so frustrated, and I could not wait to one day be able to see it again. Who would have thought that the first time I would be watching the opera, would be from inside this production with Opera Vlaanderen? (Someone touch some wood to try and not tempt fate! We have only done one of our thirteen performances so far. I really don't want the same thing to happen again.)
For Don Carlos, his life’s work, based on the theatre classic by Friedrich Schiller, Giuseppe Verdi composed a sensuous tragedy about the impossible love between the Spanish king's son Carlos and his young stepmother Elizabeth. In exchange for peace with France, she has married Carlos' father, the harsh Philip II. If there is anyone who can help Carlos out of his self-chosen role of victim, then it is his loyal friend Rodrigo, who, at risk of losing his life, commit himself to rebellious Flanders which is terrorized by Spain. This gives rise to a dangerous game of political interests and amorous intrigues.
The boundaries separating memory and dream, religion and madness become blurred. Don Carlos is a passionate story about man in all his uncertainty and vulnerability, within a social system in which ideological fronts have become rock-hard. This is a plea for humanism and idealism and the perfect start to the season.
Opera Ballet Vlaanderen presents Don Carlos in the definitive form Verdi gave to his French-language grand opéra. Director Johan Simons, who is one of today’s most prominent European theatre-makers, has long been fascinated by the explosive and revolutionary theme of Schiller’s original play.
Together with visual artist Hans Op de Beeck and costume designer Greta Goiris, he develops a scenic world that is fundamentally conceived from the perspective of Don Carlos: theatrical, elusive and fundamentally unjust. The visual language refers, among other things, to the oeuvre of artists of the 16th-century Netherlands, such as Pieter Bruegel and Hieronymus Bosch. In this new production of Verdi’s masterpiece, the musical director is the Argentinian conductor Alejo Pérez.
Length: 4 hours, incl. intermission French with Dutch and English surtitles
Photos: Annemie Augustijns
Jennifer Coleman - is a classical / opera singer, and vocal coach, performing across the UK and internationally.