Paris National Opera 2017-18 Preview: Jonas Kaufmann, Sonya Yoncheva & 7 Reasons To See ‘Don Carlos’

Arguably the event of the fall season (at least we thought so) the Opéra National de Paris’ production of Verdi’s “Don Carlos,” in full five-act splendor is going to turn a ton of heads. The reason? There are seven of them. Let’s look at each of them.

First off is Jonas Kaufmann. The star tenor is a must-see anywhere he goes, no matter what. Why? His interpretations and vocal artistry are always of the absolute highest caliber. You never hear of Kaufmann giving a bad performance. And definitely not as Don Carlos, a role that he first dominated years ago. What is most interesting is that this run of performances will be his first in the role since singing three different productions of the role in 2013, his most recent performances at Salzburg on DVD. We have not heard him do the opera in its original language, which should make for quite an experience.

Reason number two for seeing this opera? Elina Garanca. Another fearless artist and arguably THE mezzo of her time, this will be the first time that Garanca takes on the Princess Eboli in her career. And despite some truly great interpretations over the years, is there an artist more suited to take on the role of the beautiful yet ambiguous Princess? Garanca, with her movie star looks, gorgeous mezzo, and yet steely temperament makes for the ideal interpreter for this role.

Moving onto the third reason, Sonya Yoncheva. The Soprano’s star grows with every single production and it seems that she is simply becoming the go-to in virtually everything from Verdi to Puccini to the French repertoire. This will be her first Élisabeth, which is also among her first forays into darker and richer Verdi territory. This should give us a better indication of where her career progresses and whether we might hear some “Aida,” “Il Trovatore,” “Un Ballo in Maschera,” and “La Forza del Destino” in the near future.

Ludovic Tézier might be overlooked given the first three cast members I mentioned above, but he is one of the finest baritones in the world, quite possibly the most refined vocally at this very moment. A veteran in the role of Rodrigue, this would be his seventh production since 2012. He is reason number four.

The fifth reason is bass Ildar Abdrazakov, another veteran in the towering role of King Philip. He has already taken on the role six times and this production would be his seventh. Moreover, he has performed in three other productions in 2017 alone, meaning that the role is fresh in his voice and his interpretation has undoubtedly grown and developed in time for this Parisian presentation. Throw in the fact that Abdrazakov is always a solid actor and he should make this a production to remember with his co-stars.

I would be remiss not to bring up bass Dmitry Belosselskiy who gets better and better with each passing production and should make the most of his time as the Grand Inquisitor. He is reason six.

The final reason to see this production comes down to the man in the pit – Philippe Jordan. If you didn’t know who he was a few months ago, then you certainly know who he is by now. No conductor has seen his profile grow faster over the last year, and if this is any indication, it will only get bigger and bigger as he continues to showcase his burgeoning musical genius. If anyone can bring these titanic vocal forces together, he is the man to do just that.

“Don Carlos” opens on Oct. 10 and runs for 11 performances. There are other singers replacing the top three I mentioned above including tenor Pavel Cernoch, soprano Hilba Gerzmava, and mezzo Ekaterina Gubanova.

To learn more about the opera, check out these two links that relate its different versions and themes.

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2 Responses


  2. Sigh. An article about a major production of the opera in its original language, but still uses the Italian names for Carlos and Élisabeth. It sounds great, in any case. Surely there’ll be a commercial video.

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