Don Carlo: a constellation of singers


From the 14th to the 18th of April, performances of the opera Don Carlo by Giuseppe Verdi will take place on the Historic Stage. This large-scale opera, based on the historical plot, belongs amongst the composer’s greatest achievements but is performed less often than some of his other works, “smash hits” that rarely leave the stage around the world. Bolshoi’s current production was staged in commemoration of the bicentennial of the composer's birthday by the eminent British director, Adrian Noble. It recreates the gloomy splendour of the 16th century Spanish court; it is dressed in marvellous clothes that are extremely close to the real costumes of the time and glorifies man’s infinite aspiration to freedom. However, the most important part is, of course, the voices. The opera belongs to the category of those that are spoken of in this way: impossible to stage if there is no Performer for this, that or another part. It is becoming a kind tradition of the Bolshoi to gather an exceptionally star cast for the whole performance block of this opera.

This series will be marked by several exciting debuts. For the first time, the legendary Plácido Domingo will appear in a Bolshoi production. The singer first arrived on our stage in 1974 during the tour of La Scala, when he performed the part of Cavaradossi in the opera Tosca by Puccini. His next performance on the stage of the Bolshoi took place in the modern time, at a gala concert marking the 2018 FIFA World Cup. During the current season, Plácido Domingo debuted as conductor at the Bolshoi. He conducted the operas Manon Lescaut and La Bohème by Puccini. Later he presented two “Domingo & Friends” gala concerts on the stage of the Bolshoi.

Now Plácido Domingo will, for the first time in a Bolshoi production, perform one of his crown parts – Rodrigo. Over the last years, he has performed it at the Vienna State Opera, the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia and the Los Angeles Opera. Moreover, as the American press unanimously stated, at the premiere in Los Angeles the audience simply “did not recognise” the singer, because of how youthful and shapely the marquise, performed by seventy-seven-year-old Domingo, appeared. He was practically recognised “by his voice”! “Domingo, who formerly displayed his tenorial splendor in the role of the lovelorn prince, Don Carlo, proved he could be equally impressive as his comrade-in-arms, Rodrigo. His voice, now in its baritone incarnation, maintains all of its lustre as well as Domingo’s signature amber hue. He has also lost none of his strength as a dramatic actor.” (Daily News, 25/09/2018).

Renowned Italian singer Ferruccio Furlanetto will perform for the first time on our stage in the role of Philip II. It holds a special place in his repertoire. Indeed, since his debut in the part of King Philip at the Salzburg Festival (conducted by Herbert von Karajan) in 1986, his impressive international career has taken off. He has performed it at all leading theatres in the world (in recent years, at the Royal Opera House, the Los Angeles Opera – together with Plácido Domingo, Vienna State Opera, La Scala and San Francisco Opera). Some of his performances were recorded and released on DVD. “It was indeed Furlanetto that formed the pillar of this stage performance. Near on four decades after making his La Scala debut, his oaken voice remains in fine working order, and it is hard to imagine a more convincing performance of this hectoring King gnarled by paranoia. This was an intimidating portrayal of the role, albeit one laced with vulnerability via a moving “Ella giammai m'amò”. That said, nothing terrified more than his confrontation with Eric Halfvarson's Grande Inquisitor: pure fanatical rage funnelled through an age-wracked body.” ( 20/01/2017). Ferruccio Furlanetto debuted at the Bolshoi in the role of Zaccaria (Nabucco) in 2006. In 2012, he performed the part of Boris Godunov.

Andrei Valenty, the leading soloist of The National Academic Grand Opera and Ballet Theatre of the Republic of Belarus, will perform the part of a Monk for the first time at the Bolshoi Theatre. He debuted at the Bolshoi in 2005 performing the role of Mussorgsky at the premiere of The Children of Rosenthal, the opera by L. Desyatnikov. After that, he performed in other productions of the Bolshoi: Nabucco, Turandot, War and Peace, Boris Godunov, The Queen of Spades and The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya. Last year the singer performed at the Bolshoi the part of Sobakin (The Tsar’s bride), and most recently, the part of Colline in La Bohème.

All the leading parts will be performed by the stars of the world stage. Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov, who brilliantly opened our season, are returning to the Bolshoi Theatre. “The stellar cast appeared to be genuine stars, stunning voices, charisma, mastery. Anna Netrebko, for the first time on the stage of the Bolshoi, performed the part of Elisabeth – the most complicated role in vocal technique as well as image. And she was wonderful when Yusif Eyvazov in the leading part was passionate and tragic. (“Moskovskij Komsomolets”, 07/09/2020). Earlier, Anna Netrebko performed at the Bolshoi at the premiere of the opera Manon Lescaut (2016) and her rendition of the leading part was a huge success. Yusif Eyvazov always performs at our theatre (the parts of Don Carlo, Chevalier Des Grieux, Herman and earlier Mario Cavaradossi as well).

Once again Liang Li, Kammersänger of the Stuttgart Opera will perform on our stage. He is a sought-after guest at many of the world’s leading theatres and has won his fame a “Verdian” and “Wagnerian” singer. His 2018 debut at the Bolshoi Theatre was with the very same Don Carlo.

In one of her crown parts, as Princess Eboli, the renowned singer Elena Zhidkova will perform. At the Bolshoi she debuted at the premiere of the opera Wozzeck by Berg as Marie (2009), then she sang the parts: Marina Mnishek in Boris Godunov and Eboli in Don Carlo. Elena Zhidkova also performed the part of Eboli with great success at the Vienna State Opera, The Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Hamburg State Opera, The Greek National Opera, the Opéra national du Rhin in Strasbourg, The Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and many more.

The part of Elisabeth will be performed again by Hibla Gerzmava, who is loved dearly by the Moscow audience. It was indeed the role she debuted with at the Bolshoi Theatre in 2016 and her performance created a real storm.

Nazhmiddin Mavlyanov‎ is a frequent guest at the Bolshoi. Over the last six years he created a series of interesting characters on our stage and participated in three premieres where he performed Count Vaudemont (Iolanta), Faust (La Damnation de Faust) and Sadko (Sadko, for the performance of this part the singer was nominated for the Golden Mask and received the Casta Diva award).

Vasily Ladyuk has been regularly performing on the stage of the Bolshoi Theatre for almost fifteen years. This season, he has already come onto our stage as Prince Yeletsky and Robert. Soon we expect his performances in the operas Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Don Pasquale and La Traviata.

The leading parts will also be performed by the stars of the Bolshoi company:
Anna Nechaeva, Agunda Kulaeva and Igor Golovatenko.

For the first time, this opera at the Bolshoi Theatre will be conducted by Paolo Carignani, a recognised interpreter of the Italian operatic repertoire. The conductor collaborates with the leading theatres in Italy and around the world. In particular, he has worked at the Vienna State Opera, the Berlin and Bavarian State Operas, the Metropolitan Opera (where he conducted all the operas by Puccini that were then in the repertoire), the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, the Royal Opera House, the Paris Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera (the list goes on). Between 1999 and 2008, he held the position of head conductor of the Oper Frankfurt, At the Bolshoi, he conducted Un Ballo in Maschera.

More details about the cast on the specific dates