Teatro alla Scala Opens 2023-24 Season with Star-Studded ‘Don Carlo’

By Francisco Salazar

The Teatro alla Scala is set to open its 2023-24 season with Verdi’s “Don Carlo,” a work associated with the company’s history.

The opera has been performed by such conductors as Tullio Serafin, Arturo Toscanini, Claudio Abbado, and Riccardo Muti. Now Riccardo Chailly is conducting a new production by Lluís Pasqual, a director who has made a reflection on the Baroque a constant in his work from his experience at Teatre Llure of Barcelona. With this production, Chailly is bringing an all-star cast that has performed the opera all over the world.

Here is a look at the cast’s past experiences with “Don Carlo.”

Francesco Meli – Don Carlo 

The last time Don Carlo was performed at La Scala was in the 2016-17 season and the protagonist was Meli. That year, the company performed the five-act version. Critics praised the tenor  for his “full-throttle sound on full display.” Last season, he took on the four-act version at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. This opening night cast will mark Meli’s sixth time opening the Teatro alla Scala following productions of “Idomeneo,” “Giovanna d’Arco,” “Tosca,” “Macbeth,” and “Riveder le Stelle.”

Anna Netrebko – Elisabetta 

The Russian soprano returns to the La Scala in the role of Elisabetta. Before making her role debut in the opera, she recorded the opera’s aria on two occasions in two albums. She then performed an abridged version of the opera in 2020 at the Semperoper  Dresden. Her official debut in the role came in 2020, when she sang the opera at the Bolshoi Theatre. She later reprised it at the Mariinsky Theatre. This production marks Netrebko’s sixth time opening the season. She previously starred in productions of “Giovanna d’Arco,” “Tosca,” “Macbeth,” “Don Giovanni” and “Andrea Chenier.”

Elina Garanca – Eboli 

The Latvian mezzo has performed two different versions of the famed opera. She first sang the first French version in Paris during the 2027-18 season and received raves, with OperaWire noting, “the interpretation, which was particularly seductive and openly sensual, was remarkable nonetheless providing several high points.” The mezzo later opened the Teatro San Carlo’s 2022-23 season in the five-act Italian version, which she was praised for. Critics said, “Garanča was outstanding.” This will mark her first opening night at La Scala.

Luca Salsi – Posa 

Salsi is considered one of today’s greatest Verdi baritones and has performed a range of the composer’s operas. Posa is a role he has performed at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna during the 2017-18 season and OperaWire noted he “has a notably powerful voice, and created a strong portrayal of the Marquis.” Most recently, he sang the role at the Teatro Pavarotti in Modena in 2021 and at the Teatro Real during the 20219-20 season. He has sung both the four and five-act versions during these runs.

This season’s opening night marks the baritone’s fifth opening night at the Teatro alla Scala. He has previously performed in productions of “Tosca,” “Macbeth,” “Andrea Chenier,” and “Riveder le Stelle.”

Michele Pertusi – Filippo II

Pertusi is a legendary Italian bass whose career began in 1984 and has performed numerous roles from Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Gounod, and Verdi. He first performed the role of Filippo in 2016 at the Verdi Festival where he received raves for his aria with critics noting “his Act IV soliloquy was effective.” He has since performed the role to great acclaim at the Teatro San Carlo, Teatro Comunale di Modena, and Teatro di Piacenza, among others.

“Don Carlo” opens on Dec. 7, 2023.