Teatro Alla Scala 2016-17 Season: Francesco Meli Leads An All Star Cast In Peter Stein’s New Production Of ‘Don Carlo’

By Francisco Salazar

Verdi’s “Don Carlo” returns to Teatro alla Scala on Tuesday Jan. 17 with all star cast and 8 performances throughout the month of January and the beginning of February. The new production by Peter Stein marks the first time in 40 years at La Scala that the opera will be performed in its full five acts.  Here is a look at what to expect from the company’s new production.

The Performers

Francesco Meli takes on the title role for the first time at La Scala. The tenor has become one of the most sought after for his Verdi Interpretations and is well known for having sang Verdi’s “Il Trovatore” at the Salzburg alongside Anna Netrebko. He recently opened La Scala’s season in Verdi’s “Giovanna D’Arco.”

Krassimira Stoyanova returns to La Scala in the role of Elisabetta. Stoyanova has performed the role around the world and is well known for her dramatic sensibility.

In the role of Eboli, Russian mezzo Ekaterina Semenchuck will return to the production she created at Salzburg. The mezzo garnered raves for work as Eboli and she is regarded as one of the leading Verdi Mezzos currently singing. She will sing alongside Francesco Meli in the upcoming new production of Verdi’s “Aida” at the Salzburg Festival.

Ferruccio Furlanetto will return to La Scala to sing his signature role, Filippo. The bass has sung the role all over the world and has garnered rave reviews. For most he is the single best interpreter to have performed the role and his interpretation has been recorded on numerous DVDs and is featured on a number of recordings.

Simone Piazzola and Orlin Anastassov will round out the cast in the key roles of Rodrigo and the Grand Inquisitor.

Myung-Whun Chung, one of the leading Verdi conductors, will conduct the full run.

The Opera

“Don Carlo” is one of Verdi’s most popular works as well as his longest. It requires six major voices including two basses.

The work has been the performed in numerous versions as Verdi revised it numerous times. There is the famed four act version as well as the five act version and then there is the French version, which was what Verdi originally wrote.

In the Salzburg production, which Peter Stein is bringing to La Scala, many parts are reinserted from the original French version. The Fontainebleau Act will be reinserted with the choral prelude often cut and the Lacrimosa in the fourth act will also be reinserted. The mask scene with Eboli and Elisabetta will also be used for this version.

Notable Recordings

There are many recordings of this opera but for those who will be seeing this version, the Jonas Kaufmann DVD from Sony Classical is the best choice. Not only is it the same production being brought to La Scala, but it features an all star cast that really brings the emotions to Verdi’s powerful music.

There is also Roberto Alagna’s famous French version fro the Chatelet. There is a CD and DVD recording but if you want to get the most enjoyment out of the recording, the DVD is the perfect choice. Not only is Alagna at the top of his powers but it also features outstanding performances from Karita Mattila and Waltraud Meier as well as Thomas Hampson.

Placido Domingo has two notable recordings. There is a Italian version with Monserrat Caballe, Shirley Verrett, and Ruggero Raimondi, which is excellent and then there is the French version starring Domingo, Katia Ricciarelli, Raimondi, Nicolai Ghiaurov  and Leo Nucci.