Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Don Carlo in HD

Can there be a more powerful spectacle of the evils of theocracy than the heretic-burning scene of Verdi's "Don Carlo"? I caught the Met's new and celebrated production on the rebound yesterday - the culmination of a festival of Live in HD broadcasts shown at Lincoln Center. But I imagine the effect was even more powerful inside the house, as a stage packed with scores of singers looks out over the audience, all their faces flickering red from the light of burnings at the stake. At the scene's end we briefly see the burned shapes of the heretics silhouetted behind the big banner at left, but the really powerful moment must have been when the whole opera house flickered red. And more generally when the audience found itself, like all the characters in the opera, trapped in a space with the bloody King Philip. No, I'm still not a convert to the film versions! For all the detail we get to see, the often overpowering whole - which includes not just the whole stage but the whole house - is lost.

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