Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Graphic Guide to Don Carlo

You think Simon Boccanegra is tough to understand, try Don Carlo. Simon's problems sort themselves out as soon as you figure out who the Guelphs and Ghibbelines are, and that that Amelia is Maria and that Andrea Grimaldi is Jacopo Fiesco.

Okay, maybe that's not so easy. But Don Carlo has what can only be called rather tangled relationships among its principal characters. Here's a handy guide to at least some of what's going on. There's some ambiguity in the relationship between Rodrigo and the King, and Eboli and Elisabetta's relationship, initially warm, undergoes, ahem, a radical shift after Eboli's double, or maybe I mean triple, betrayal of the Queen. I will happily accept clarifying suggests about this graphic; just add them to the comments.

I would definitely suggest a close reading of the libretto. I happen to have the tri-lingual ENO libretto, which appears to contain every word everyone ever wrote to be sung in this opera. I alternated between reading the late Andrew Porter's singing translation and the original French.


Michael Strickland said...

I think you need to read the original Schiller play (in German, of course) and come back to us with a more thorough report. There are so many fabulous things in the Verdi libretto but it's also disjointed as hell which means we're probably expected to be familiar with the source material, which I assume is the Schiller play. Nice to see you this afternoon.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Yeah, right!

I'm curious about the Schiller play but no way am I reading it in German. You've got me as to whether there was ever any expectation that Verdi's audiences would know the Schiller. I have no idea.

mountmccabe said...

I really like the chart, especially the Grand Inquisitor off by himself!

I think one of my favorite complications to all this that Verdi left out is that while some of this was going on Princess Eboli had a child with one of the people Rodrigo was based on, John of Austria.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I did not know that!

I am now wondering just how many complications Verdi left out. :) Is the child in the play or in real life?

mountmccabe said...

I was talking about real life, but it's possible this was incorrect (or at least disputed) information. It seems more supported that he had a child with Princess Eboli's sister, Maria de Mendoza, but not until November 1569.

I have not read the play, but the more I learn about the history it was all based on, the more I'm impressed how everyone involved was able to streamline the story into a coherent - if complicated - work that has much of reality represented in it, at least poetically.

Darrick Chen said...

I don't think Eboli has a historical counterpart. So I think we can assume the child is artistic license. I love Don Carlo, my favorite Verdi opera, and, as expected, it looks like SFO has hit a home run with this one.

Is the Schiller play translated to english by chance? I wouldn't mind reading it. I know that the opera bears little to history. It's sort of like movies.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Eboli has a historical counterpoint, named Ana de Mendoza, Princess of Eboli.

Ana Mendoza.

Here's one translation of the Schiller. An academic or large public library might have more than one.