LSM Newswire

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

First Don Carlo in 40 years will be one of Vancouver Opera's largest productions ever staged

Vancouver, BC - April 22, 2014 - just two weeks, VO will close the 2013-2014 season with one of its largest productions ever staged: Verdi's spectacular Don Carlo, a magnificent drama of a powerful king and rebellious son, set during the Spanish Inquisition.

Almost 80 singers will be onstage, accompanied by 61 players in the orchestra pit, a host of supernumeraries (the opera term for “extras”) and spectacular 16th-century period sets and costumes. VO's biggest production to date - an opera not seen in Vancouver in 40 years - promises to be a visual and musical feast and the most explosive cultural experience of the season.

Don Carlo is on stage for four performances only, Saturday, May 3 to Sunday, May 11, 2014:

Saturday, May 3 • 7:30pm
Thursday, May 8 • 7:30pm
Saturday, May 10 • 7:30pm
Sunday, May 11 • 2:00pm matinée

All performances are at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, corner of Georgia and Hamilton Streets, Vancouver, B.C. The opera will be sung in Italian, with simultaneous English translations projected above the stage.

Tickets from $40 available exclusively from the Vancouver Opera Ticket Centre: 604-683-0222 or Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted. Special pricing for groups of 10 of more available by phone.


Conducted by VO’s Music Director Jonathan Darlington
Directed by Paul Peers

Don Carlo                            Andrea Carè
Elisabeth de Valois          Joni Henson
Princess Eboli                     Mary Phillips
Rodrigo                                                Brett Polegato
Philip II                                 Peter Volpe
The Grand Inquisitor      Gregory Frank
A Friar                                   Chad Louwerse
Tebaldo                                Kristin Hoff †
Count Lerma                      Martin Sadd
A Celestial Voice               Melanie Krueger

Chorus Director / Associate Conductor: Leslie Dala
† Member of the Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program


Italian tenor Andrea Carè sings the title role. Mr. Carè was one of the last to study with Luciano Pavarotti, and is a protégé of legendary Bulgarian soprano Raina Kabaivanska. He was the winner of the Spoleto International Opera Competition in 2005. Mr. Carè has sung at La Scala, Covent Garden, Deutsche Oper, Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Royal Opera House of Stockholm, and many others. He has shared the stage with Plácido Domingo, Anna Caterina Antonacci, Leo Nucci, Elina Garanca, and many others. This will be Mr. Carè's Vancouver Opera debut.
Also making her Vancouver Opera debut is soprano Joni Henson, singing the role of Elisabeth de Valois. Described as one of Canada's most thrilling young performers, Ms. Henson studied with Marilyn Horne and was awarded the Opera Grand Prize at the XVth Concours International de Chant de Verviers Competition in Belgium. She also received the First Place Opera and French Melodie Awards at the Concours International de Chant de Marmande Competition in France. In 2006 Ms. Henson was a semi-finalist in the Metropolitan National Council Auditions. "It's not hard to imagine this singer performing major Wagner roles in important opera houses within the next few years," declared The Globe & Mail.

Mezzo-soprano Mary Phillips also makes her Vancouver Opera debut as Princess Eboli in this production. Ms. Phillips's recent appearances include her acclaimed role debut as Brangaene in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde for Dallas Opera and Schwertleite in Wagner’s Ring and Mrs. Alexander in Philip Glass’s Satyagraha for the Metropolitan Opera. Ms. Phillips has been hailed for her Verdi, having sung Eboli in Don Carlo for the Canadian Opera Company and Azucena in Il trovatore at Seattle Opera. "Mary Phillips used her voice to its fullest dramatic potential; she was not afraid to invoke some grit to project visceral heartbreak," raved The Houston Chronicle.

Back at VO after a stunning turn as Don Giovanni earlier this year, baritone Brett Polegato sings Rodrigo.
Mr. Polegato's artistic sensibility has earned him praise from audiences and critics, including The New York Times, which has noted his “burnished, well-focused voice” which he uses with “considerable intelligence and nuance.” Mr. Polegato appears regularly on the world's most distinguished stages, including La Scala, Opéra National de Paris, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Carnegie Hall and others. Mr. Polegato can be heard as soloist in the Grammy Awards’ Best Classical Recording of 2003 - Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony (Telarc) with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Robert Spano.

Last seen at VO as Frère Laurent in 2011's Roméo et Juliette, bass Peter Volpe sings Philip II, the King of Spain. Mr. Volpe's inspired style and interpretive skill enlivens his repertoire of more than 100 roles in six languages. Recent highlights of Mr. Volpe’s career include three broadcasts for the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series, the Verdi Requiem at the Chichester Festival (Chichester, England), and the role of Marcel in the popular French grand opera Les Huguenots at the Bard Festival (Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, New York) - the first time the opera was staged in America since the Metropolitan Opera’s production 95 years earlier.

Bass Gregory Frank will sing the Grand Inquisitor in his Vancouver Opera debut. Mr. Frank has sung with Boston Lyric Opera, Greek National Opera, Finnish National Opera, Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Baltimore Opera and several others.
The Friar will be sung by bass-baritone Chad Louwerse, who returns to VO having last appeared alongside Peter Volpe as Le Duc in 2011's Roméo et Juliette. Mezzo-soprano Kristin Hoff, a participant in this year's Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program, makes her VO mainstage debut as Tebaldo. Count Lerma will be sung by tenor Martin Sadd, last seen as səy̓əm̓ 1 in VO's 2013 The Magic Flute. A Celestial Voice will be sung by soprano Melanie Krueger, who was last seen on the VO stage as Miss Wordsworth in 2013's Albert Herring. A Royal Herald will be sung by tenor Frédérik Robert, last seen as Spoletta in 2013's Tosca.

Don Carlo will be brought to life under the baton of VO's Music Director Jonathan Darlington (Leslie Dala, Associate Conductor and Chorus Director leads the VO Chorus.). Paul Peers, who last appeared at VO as director of 2013's gorgeous and stunning Canadian premiere of Tea: A Mirror of Soul, will direct this massively spectacular production.

In the war-torn 16th century, peace between France and Spain is secured when a French princess, Elisabeth de Valois, is given in marriage to Spain’s King Philip. The King’s son, Carlo, is shattered, for he is in love with her. When Carlo dares to defend the Flemish people from Philip’s persecution, he incites both his father’s fury and the awesome authority of the Grand Inquisitor. Believing that he has been doubly betrayed, Philip arrests Carlo and Elisabeth. In the dramatic final scene at the tomb of Charles V, a ghostly friar rescues Carlo from the wrath of Church and State.
Spectacular on a grand scale and also extraordinarily intimate, Don Carlo is one of Verdi’s most impressive works. His orchestral colours are brilliant, his choruses are powerful, and his music for the monstrous yet very human king, the terrifying Inquisitor, and the heroic lovers is magnificent.

All performances are at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Approximate running time: 3 hours 5 minutes (including one intermission)


Don Carlos premiered in Paris on March 11, 1867 at the Salle le Peletier, home of the Paris Opera. The story is based on two works: the poem Don Carlos, Infant von Spanien by Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1787), and the 1846 play Philippe II, roi d'Espagne by Eugène Cormon. The opera's libretto, by Joseph Mèry and Camille du Locle, was originally written in French and later translated into Italian by Achille de Lauzières.

The production and performance history of Don Carlos is extremely complicated; many different forms of the opera are still staged. Three of the most commonly performed versions are the original five-act version in French, an Italian four-act version from 1884 -  known as the "Milan" version, and the 1886 "Modena" version that added the original Act I to the revised 1884 acts. Verdi sanctioned and made some of the cuts and revisions, including the Milan version; others were done without permission.

Vancouver Opera's production will be the Italian version — the 'Milan' version, with the 's' in "Carlos" dropped, in keeping with the Italian spelling of the name.

The opera features the real historical figures Philip II of Spain, his son Don Carlo, Princess Eboli, Elizabeth de Valois and (the ghost of) Charles V. Though the real Don Carlo did die during his imprisonment (perhaps murdered? Various conspiracy theories abound), the love triangle that appears in the opera appears to be a popular myth rather than historical fact.

Charles V passed away a few years after abdicating the kingship. This gave rise to the legend of his ghost haunting the monastery where he spent his last years.

Philip II was formerly brother-in-law to Queen Elizabeth I of England and organized the failed Spanish Armada invasion. The portrayal of Philip II in history as a sometimes-villainous character is attributed to the Black Legend (anti-Spanish propaganda).

Elizabeth de Valois grew up with Mary, Queen of Scots and was a daughter of Catherine de'Medici. Princess Eboli, a famous Spanish beauty, was commonly depicted with an eye patch - she lost the eye in a childhood incident. (Mary Phillips will not be wearing an eye patch in VO’s production.) She was married to a friend of Philip II.


Vancouver Opera is the second largest opera company in Canada. It is regarded worldwide for its fine mainstage productions; for its country-leading education programs, which have reached more than 1.6 million children and their families in more than 40 years; for its innovative and award-winning community programs; and for forging groundbreaking cross-cultural creative partnerships that have brought opera to new generations of Canadians. Visit to find out more.
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