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ClassicsOnline Home » VERDI: Don Carlos
Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Friedrich Schiller was one of Giuseppe Verdi’s favourite
authors. During the 1840s he had composed three operas on plays by Schiller,
Giovanna d’Arco (Die Jungfrau von Orléans) in 1844, I masnadieri (Die Räuber)
in 1847 and Luisa Miller (Kabale und Liebe) in 1849. It was, therefore, not so
strange that the writers of the opera Jérusalem, Gustave Vaëz and Alphonse
Royer, in 1850 suggested Schiller’s 1787 verse drama Don Carlos for their next
project. At the same time Verdi had himself studied Francesco Maria Piave’s
libretto on the same subject for Antonio Buzzolla’s opera Elisabetta di Valois,
first given at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, but Verdi was to compose nine
other large-scale operas before he took a serious interest in the fate of the
Three of Verdi’s operas had their first performances in
Paris prior to Don Carlos, Jérusalem in 1847, Les vêpres siciliennes in 1855
and a revised version of Macbeth in 1865. Other Verdi operas had also been
produced on the stages of the French capital soon after their premières in
In the summer of 1864 Perrin, the director of the Paris
Opéra, contacted Verdi about a new opera for the World Fair of 1867. Since
there had almost been a “war” between the composer and the opera orchestra
during the rehearsals of Les vêpres siciliennes, Verdi remained silent. He was
now working hard at his Italian farm Sant’Agata, with building projects,
hydraulic machinery, tree-planting, horse-breeding and hunting. In the summer
of 1865 he wrote to his French publisher Escudier that he was surprised at the
offer from the Opéra because of the earlier débâcle, but that he would like to
write an opera, if he could find a libretto.
Perrin quickly sent Escudier to Sant’Agata with two texts,
Cleopatra and a scenario on Schiller’s Don Carlos. Verdi became really
interested in the latter since Don Carlos was yet another drama on the
complicated relationship between father and child, a subject to which he
returned in Luisa Miller, Rigoletto, Simon Boccanegra, Aida, I due Foscari and
Don Carlos. Verdi had had a bad relationship with his father, who died during
the Don Carlos rehearsals. His daughter, son and first wife had died after four
years of marriage and he deeply regretted not having children with his second
wife Giuseppina Strepponi. Another reason for Verdi’s increased interest in
Schiller’s drama was his visit to Spain in 1862 and to King Philip’s palace at
the Escorial. He was strongly affected by the sight of the King’s barely
furnished little room where he had also died.
The French text to Don Carlos was written by Joseph Méry,
who wrote La bataille de Toulouse, the subject of Verdi’s early opera La
battaglia di Legnano. Méry died, however, and the text was completed by Camille
Du Locle. Verdi composed the first act in Paris and went back to Sant’Agata in
March 1866 where con furore he completed three more acts, but the political
situation grew worse and Verdi as usual took an active part in the struggle for
a united Italy. Negotiations between Italy, Austria and Prussia eventually led
to war. Prussia’s ally France came into possession of Venice and the Veneto and
Verdi was furious. He wanted to cancel the contract for Don Carlos but the
Paris Opéra refused. War was not enough for the necessary force majeure. Verdi
met some of the singers in Paris and finished the last act in August-September
Don Carlos is Verdi’s longest opera - in five acts. The
French audience expected grand opera in the style of Meyerbeer, with grandiose
scenography, expensive costumes, musical drama and elaborate ensembles, ballet
and crowd scenes. Verdi devised a ballet of twenty minutes and two crowd
scenes. Much has been made of Verdi’s impatience with the Paris Opéra. He
admired the care with which productions were mounted at the Opéra compared to
the low standards in Italy. He feared, however, that the very size and length
of the projects risked making them unmanageable and artistically flawed. Don
Carlos was also revised several times (see page 6 ).
Don Carlos, however, is not an incoherent patchwork. With
this opera Verdi takes a big step towards the height of his genius, towards
Aida, Otello and Falstaff. One innovation in Don Carlos is the “conversation
music”. There are no recitatives but more of a connected lyrical-dramatic declamation
resulting in a new form of through-composed dialogue. The musical portrayal of
the characters too, the intensified interplay between orchestra and vocal
parts, shows a new breadth, depth and variety. The orchestra takes part in the
inner and outer action with its special creation of atmosphere and
psychological expression. Don Carlos is very much an opera of duets, but the
duets are dramatic dialogues in a flow of melodies and psychology of voice. It
is also an opera of great monologues, terzettos, marches and choruses in an
unusually modulated play of colours much inspired by the Spanish environment.
The première on 11th March 1867 was not a success. Verdi’s
new style confused both audience and critics. He was accused of Wagnerism,
although he had only heard one of Wagner’s overtures before composing Don
Carlos. For us it is hard to tell what the Wagnerian influence would be. There
are no leitmotifs but a few returning short motifs, serving as reminders of a
Don Carlos had 43 performances in Paris after the première.
The curiosity of the audience prevailed. The opera was soon given in a number
of countries in different languages and versions but did not establish itself
in the repertory until the 1920s and 1930s. Only after the Second World War did
Verdi’s ‘opera-poema’ became one of his best loved works. Its quest for freedom
and struggle against oppression are still a burning issue.
Four versions, seven adaptations
Today Don Carlos is performed in French as often as it is in
Italian. However, different productions and recordings vary considerably as
regards the choice of scenes and music. The extent of the original material is
such that directors, dramaturgists and conductors tend to stage the work in a
highly individualistic manner, sometimes without clearly stating their
intentions. People sometimes speak of a French and an “Italian” version of Don
Carlos. But there is no “Italian” version, merely an Italian translation, since
Verdi composed almost all the music on the basis of a libretto in French.
Although Verdi approved four different versions, Don Carlos is frequently
staged in a form he would have found it difficult to recognise.
1. Paris 1866-67
A.The French opera in five acts composed by Verdi for the
Paris Opera in 1866.
B. The shortened opera performed in five acts with ballet at
the dress rehearsal on 24th February, 1867. Material was cut primarily from Act
4, in particular Eboli’s confession to the Queen before the aria “O don fatal”
and the prison scene.
C. The further shortened opera, though still in five acts,
performed at the première on 11th March. The passages removed now included the
scene between Elisabeth and the starving people in Act 1 and the depiction of
conditions in Flanders as described to Carlos by the Marquis of Posa in Act 2.
D. The second performance, given on 13th March, was
identical with that of the première, except that the prison scene of Act 4 now
ended with Posa’s death. In this adaptation but shortened still further and now
translated into Italian, Don Carlos was first performed in London in 1867. The
Italian première was staged in Bologna in the same year.
2. Naples 1872
E. A new Italian translation of a somewhat shortened adaptation
D, now with new music for part of Philip and Posa’s duet in Act 2 – the only
passage of Don Carlos for which Verdi composed music to an Italian text.
3. Milan, La Scala, 1884
F. A comprehensive revision scaled down to four acts, partly
with new music composed on the basis of a revised French libretto that was then
translated into Italian. Now Act 1 was removed, as were the masked ball and
ballet that had been included in the previous Act 3. The great duets between
Carlos and Posa, Posa and Philip and Carlos and Elisabeth vary considerably
from earlier adaptations. The same applies to the mob scene and closing finale.
4. Modena 1886
G. Five acts in Italian. Now a shortened Act 1
(= Paris) precedes a revised adaptation F of Acts 2-5
Which Don Carlos?
The ambition behind the adaptation performed by the Royal
Swedish Opera since December, 1999, has been to tell – as intelligibly as
possible – Schiller’s and Verdi’s tale of the tragic impact of the power
struggle between Church and State on the fate of five individuals without
having to cut too sharply between the various versions.
Right from the start, the director, Friedrich Meyer-Oertel,
wished to retain most of the first act – the scene in Fontainebleau in which
Carlos and Elisabeth meet and fall in love – which had not been staged in
Stockholm since the thirties; and he wished to round off the drama with the
fifth act’s original, mysteriously subdued ending. The conductor, Alberto
Hold-Garrido, held out for Philip’s and the male choir’s grief at the Marquis
of Posa’s death in prison, strains that recur in Verdi’s Requiem.
In dramaturgical terms, Don Carlos’s French libretto is well
constructed and leaves no important step of the plot unexplained. There is
therefore no good reason for excluding – as is often the case – the short scene
of Act 3 in which the Queen and Princess Eboli, with fatal consequences,
exchange the costumes in which they appear at the masked ball. We have also
included sufficient of the mob scene of the fourth act, when Carlos is in
prison, to enable audiences to grasp who lies behind the uprising – Eboli again
– and how it prepares the ground for the meeting of the lovers in the final
act. The version here sung in Italian by the Royal Swedish Opera thus largely conforms
to the Modena version of 1886 with the addition of certain important components
of the 1867 Paris version.
Head of dramaturgy
Royal Swedish Opera
 –  ACT I
A forest near the château of Fontainebleau outside Paris
Peace negotiations between France and Spain are under way
inside the château. Don Carlos, son of Philip II, King of Spain, has secretly
accompanied the Spanish envoy to France in order to catch a glimpse of his
French bride-to-be, Elisabeth de Valois. When they meet in the forest, he
immediately falls in love with her and shows her a medallion bearing his
portrait. To her joy, Elisabeth realises that the man she has met has been chosen
to be her husband. The couple declare their love for each other.
Elisabeth’s page, Tebaldo, arrives on the scene to inform
her that her father, for political reasons, has decided instead that she is to
be the wife of King Philip. The people beg her to acquiesce and so put an end
to the war. Elisabeth is forced to agree and the two lovers bemoan their fate.
 – 
Scene 1: The cloister of the Spanish monastery of St Yuste
Don Carlos seeks consolation at the grave of his
grandfather, Charles V. In a vision he sees how his grandfather had abdicated
the throne to become a monk.
Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa and Carlos’s childhood friend
recently returned from the Netherlands, explains how the Protestants of
Flanders are suffering under the yoke of the Inquisition. Only with Carlos’s
help can he hope to realise his plan to liberate the Netherlands. Carlos
confesses his love for his stepmother, Elisabeth. Shocked, Rodrigo tries to turn
his friend’s mind to politics – Carlos must ask his father to be appointed
governor of Flanders. Philip and Elisabeth arrive at the convent to visit the
grave of Charles V. Carlos is dismayed at seeing Elisabeth again, and he and
Rodrigo swear eternal friendship.
 – 
Scene 2: Outside St Yuste monastery gate
The ladies of Elisabeth’s entourage wile away the time as
they wait for their Queen. One of them, Princess Eboli, sings the Song of the
Veil, a Moorish love song. When Elisabeth arrives, Rodrigo hands her a letter
from her mother in France. Along with the letter is a note from Carlos asking
her to put her faith in Rodrigo and to arrange a meeting between herself and
Carlos. Princess Eboli for her part believes that Don Carlos is secretly in
love with her but does not dare admit it.
Carlos begs Elisabeth to influence his father Philip in
having him appointed to represent the Crown in Flanders. He cannot see
Elisabeth as a mother, only as his beloved. However, Elisabeth’s cold
indifference sends him into a state of despair and he rushes from her presence.
King Philip, angered at finding the Queen unattended,
accuses the Countess of Aremberg, one of Elisabeth’s entourage, of neglecting
her duties and banishes her to France.
Rodrigo, who is seldom seen among the courtiers of Spain,
appears on the scene and Philip asks to talk to him. Rodrigo informs the King
of the terror spread by the Inquisition among the people of Flanders and begs
Philip to put an end to their suffering. Philip, however, condemns the
Protestants as blasphemers and heretics and warns Rodrigo to beware the Grand
Inquisitor. He is, however, impressed with the young man’s courage and requests
him to be his friend and counsellor.
 –  Scene
1: The Queen’s garden
A masked ball is in progress in the palace. Elisabeth,
preferring to withdraw to spend her time in prayer, asks Eboli to don the royal
cloak and mask so that the guests will believe the Queen is still among them.
Carlos has received a note requesting an assignation in the
garden at midnight. Carlos believes the note to be from Elisabeth, and when a
figure appears he does not see that it is Princess Eboli who is approaching,
disguised as the Queen. Carlos pours out his love for her, and Eboli, bitterly
disappointed, swears to take her revenge on both the Infante and the Queen.
Rodrigo, who has witnessed the entire scene, wishes to kill Eboli but is held
back by Carlos.
 – 
Scene 2: Before the Cathedral, Valladolid
A crowd has gathered in the square to celebrate an
auto-da-fé. The monks lead forth the prisoners who are to be burnt alive to
serve as a warning to others and to consolidate the power of the King and the
Inquisition. Carlos appears with a group of deputies from Flanders, who beg for
mercy for their people. Carlos requests that he be appointed governor of
Flanders. When the King brusquely refuses, Carlos draws his sword and swears to
save Flanders. Philip orders that he be disarmed, but no-one dares take the
Infante’s weapon. Finally, Rodrigo grasps the sword, and Carlos, believing he
has been betrayed, puts up no resistance. The auto-da-fé continues and a Voice
from Heaven promises the victim of inquisition eternal bliss.
 – 
Scene 1: The chamber of King Philip
The King is racked with misgivings and, before deciding
whether to sentence his son, seeks counsel and absolution from the Grand
Inquisitor. The Grand Inquisitor is implacable. Not only must Carlos die, but
Posa, too, must be delivered to the Inquisition, as he is now considered a threat
to the authority of the Church.
Elisabeth enters the chamber to ask her husband’s help in
recovering her jewel casket, which appears to have been stolen. The casket is,
however, already in the King’s possession, and among its contents is a portrait
of Don Carlos. The King accuses her of infidelity and pushes her aside with
such force that she falls and faints. Rodrigo and Eboli come to her assistance.
Eboli admits to Elisabeth that it was she, in her jealousy, who gave the casket
to the King, and when she confesses that she has been Philip’s mistress
Elisabeth banishes her to a nunnery. Alone and excluded from the Court, Eboli
determines to foment rebellion and have Carlos released from prison.
 –  Scene
2: In the prison
In an attempt to have Carlos freed, Rodrigo has confessed to
the King that it is he who is the rebellious leader of the people of Flanders
and has produced written proof to this effect. Rodrigo seeks out Carlos in the
prison and prays him to take up the cause of Flanders since he himself must
die. A shot rings out from an ambush and Rodrigo falls dead. When Philip
arrives at the prison to give his son his freedom, Carlos spurns him as the
murderer of his friend and reveals the true reason for Rodrigo’s death. Now
Philip is obliged to recognise that Rodrigo has sacrificed himself for Carlos
and his political ideas.
Count Lerma arrives to warn the King of the approach of a
riotous mob stirred up by Eboli in her attempt to save Carlos. Although Philip
admits the rebels to his presence, the Grand Inquisitor forces them to fall to
their knees before their King. Seeing the lengths to which Eboli is prepared to
go, Elisabeth now understands how strongly Eboli feels for Carlos.
 –  ACT
The monastery of St Yuste
Elisabeth is praying at the grave of Charles V when Don
Carlos arrives for a last farewell before departing for Flanders to fulfil his
promise to Rodrigo. As they take their leave, Philip and the Grand Inquisitor
step out of hiding and are about to seize Carlos when the voice of Charles V is
heard. Don Carlos takes his own life and dies in Philip’s arms.
English translation: Alan Imber
Jaakko Ryhänen (Philip II)
The Finnish bass Jaakko Ryhänen studied at the Music
Academies in Helsinki, Copenhagen and Rome. In 1972 he made his operatic début
in Das Rheingold with the Finnish National Opera, of which he has been a
permanent member since 1975. He has appeared in leading rôles in Macbeth, The
Last Temptations, Der fliegende Holländer, Die Zauberflöte, Yevgeny Onegin,
Simon Boccanegra, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Boris Godunov, Don Giovanni,
Die Walküre, Das Rheingold, Tannhäuser, Don Carlos, Aida, Fidelio, Il barbiere
di Siviglia, Lucia di Lammermoor, Nabucco, and Rigoletto at the Finnish
National Opera and in leading opera houses around the world including Covent
Garden, the Vienna State Opera, La Scala, the Bolshoy Theatre, the Marinsky
Theatre, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Bavarian State Opera Munich, Hamburg State
Opera, Zürich Opera, Teatro La Fenice Venice, the Paris Opéra, Chicago Lyric
Opera and Los Angeles Opera.
Lars Cleveman (Don Carlos)
The Swedish tenor Lars Cleveman studied at the Swedish Opera
Academy in Stockholm and made his opera début with the free group SMDE in Death
in Venice in 1984. He has appeared in leading rôles in Boris Godunov, Das
Rheingold, Der fliegende Holländer, Parsifal, Otello, Don Carlos, Carmen,
Werther, Madama Butterfly, Les contes d’Hoffmann, Andrea Chénier, Tristan und
Isolde, Pagliacci, Turandot, Samson et Dalila, Siegfried, and Manon Lescaut at
the Royal Swedish Opera and at Musikteatern in Värmland, Folkoperan Stockholm,
Dalhalla, Det Kongeligeteater Copenhagen among other opera houses.
Peter Mattei (Rodrigo)
The Swedish baritone Peter Mattei studied at the Royal Music
and Opera Academies in Stockholm. He made his opera début in La finta
giardiniera at the Drottningholm Court Theatre in 1990. He has appeared in
leading rôles in The Bacchae (with Ingmar Bergman), Die Zauberflöte, The Maid
of Orléans, Don Carlos, Yevgeny Onegin, Le nozze di Figaro, Il barbiere di
Siviglia, Don Giovanni (with Peter Brook), La Bohème, Tannhäuser, and L’elisir
d’amore at the Royal Swedish Opera, GöteborgsOperan and in leading opera houses
around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Aix-en-Provence, Lyric
Opera Chicago, Teatro alla Scala, Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels,
Glyndebourne and Salzburg Festivals and in concert performances including Les
Troyens with Sir Colin Davis.
Bengt Rundgren (The Grand Inquisitor)
The Swedish bass Bengt Rundgren studied at the Royal Academy
in Stockholm. He made his opera début in Don Giovanni at the Royal Swedish
Opera in 1962 and was engaged at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin from 1969 until
1998. He has appeared in leading rôles in Die Zauberflöte, Das Rheingold, Don
Carlos, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Nabucco, Don Giovanni, Le nozze di
Figaro, Yevgeny Onegin, Boris Godunov,Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Tristan und
Isolde, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Die Walküre, Götterdämmerung, and
Parsifal at the Royal Swedish Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin and at the
Metropolitan, La Scala, and Covent
Garden among other houses.
Hillevi Martinpelto (Elisabeth de Valois)
The Swedish soprano Hillevi Martinpelto studied at the Royal
Music and Opera Academies in Stockholm. She made her opera début in Madama
Butterfly at the Royal Swedish Opera in 1987. She has appeared in leading rôles
in Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro, Die Zauberflöte, Aida, Don
Carlos, Otello, A Dreamplay, Lohengrin, Tannhäuser, Iphigénie en Aulide,
Iphigénie en Tauride, Falstaff, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Yevgeny Onegin,
Un ballo in maschera, and Faust, including guest appearances in Drottningholm
Court Theatre, GöteborgsOperan and in Los Angeles, Hamburg, Vienna, Milan,
Paris, Cologne, London, Berlin, Dresden, Munich, Glyndebourne, Amsterdam and
Tokyo. Concert performances include appearances with Gardiner, Jacobs, Metha,
Giulini, Muti, Rattle among others, including eight Promenade Concerts in the
Albert Hall in London.
Ingrid Tobiasson (Princess Eboli)
The Swedish mezzo-soprano Ingrid Tobiasson studied at the Royal
Music and Opera Academies in Stockholm. She made her opera début in Aida at
Folkoperan Stockholm in 1985. She has appeared in leading rôles in Maria
Stuarda, Norma, Aida, Otello, Don Carlos, Carmen, Cavalleria rusticana, Der
fliegende Holländer, Lohengrin, Der Ring des Nibelungen, Parsifal, Capriccio,
Elektra, Die tote Stadt, The Cunning Little Vixen, The Bacchae (with Ingmar
Bergman), A Dreamplay, Clara, Rigoletto, L’Italiana in Algeri, Il barbiere di
Siviglia, Idomeneo, and The Bartered Bride at the Royal Swedish Opera and at
Norrlandsoperan, Malmö Opera och Musikteater, and the Théâtre de la Monnaie in
Brussels. She has been appointed Royal Court Singer.
Iwa Sörenson (Tebaldo)
The Swedish soprano Iwa Sörenson studied at the Music
Academies in Gothenburg and Cologne and at the Opera School in Gothenburg. She
made her opera début in Don Pasquale at Malmö Opera och Musikteater in 1978.
She has appeared in leading rôles in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Le nozze di
Figaro, Così fan tutte, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Faust, Les contes d’Hoffmann,
Carmen, Rigoletto, Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Der Rosenkavalier, Arabella,
Capriccio, Dialogues des Carmélites, La Bohème and The Cunning Little Vixen,
among other works, at the Royal Swedish Opera.
Klas Hedlund (The Count of Lerma / A Royal Herald)
The Swedish tenor Klas Hedlund studied at the Royal Opera
Academy in Stockholm. He made his opera début in Die Fledermaus at Folkoperan
Stockholm in 1991. He has appeared in leading rôles in Il mondo della luna, Don
Giovanni, Die Zauberflöte, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Salome, Capriccio, Der
Rosenkavalier, Wozzeck, The Makropulos Affair, Euridice, Orlando Paladino,
Orfeo, L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Il trionfo dell’onore at the Royal
Swedish Opera and at Drottningholm Court Theatre, Norrlandsoperan, Folkoperan,
Malmö Opera och Musikteater, Finnish National Opera, with guest appearances in
Paris, Brussels and Caen.
Martti Wallén (An Old Monk)
The Finnish bass Martti Wallén studied at the Sibelius
Academy in Helsinki. He made his opera début in Rigoletto at the Royal Swedish
Opera in 1975. He has appeared in leading rôles in Così fan tutte, Don
Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro, Die Zauberflöte, Il barbiere di Siviglia,
Falstaff, Aida, La Bohème, Der fliegende Holländer, Das Rheingold, Die Walküre,
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Der Rosenkavalier, and The Maid of Orléans at
the Royal Swedish Opera, the Finnish National Opera, Savonlinna and elsewhere.
Hilde Leidland (A Voice from Heaven)
The Norwegian soprano Hilde Leidland studied at the Royal
Music and Opera Academies in Oslo and Stockholm. She made her opera début in
The Marionnettes (Rosenberg) at the Royal Swedish Opera in 1982. She has
appeared in leading rôles in Fra Diavolo, Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Die
Zauberflöte, Un ballo in maschera, Rigoletto, Carmen, Ariadne auf Naxos, Der
Rosenkavalier, Les contes d’Hoffmann, Die Fledermaus, Orlando, Clara (Gefors),
Hänsel und Gretel, Die Nachtigall, Parsifal, Der Ring des Nibelungen, Die
Entführung aus dem Serail, and Fidelio at the Royal Swedish Opera, Bayreuth
(1985-92), Hanover, Salzburg, Berlin, Nice, Oslo, Wiesbaden, Stuttgart,
Düsseldorf, Brussels, Hamburg, Paris, and Tokyo.
Royal Swedish Opera Stockholm
The Royal Swedish Opera Stockholm was founded in 1773 by
King Gustavus III as a national stage for opera sung in the Swedish language
and for ballet. Since then a permanent company of singers, dancers, chorus,
orchestra and technical staff have given seasons of nine to ten months every
year in Stockholm and on tour. World famous singers who made their débuts at
the opera house in Stockholm include Jenny Lind, John Forsell, Jussi Björling,
Birgit Nilsson, Nicolai Gedda, Elisabeth Söderström, Ingvar Wixell and Gösta
Winbergh. Gustavus III encouraged Swedish works composed by Italians and
Germans alternating with Gluck’s operas. During the nineteenth century the
repertory took its cue from France. From around 1900 a very strong Wagner
tradition developed and after 1950 the stress was more and more on contemporary
works. Over the last fifty years the Royal Swedish Opera has toured in
Scandinavia, Germany and Russia and appeared at international festivals in
Edinburgh, Montreal, Hong Kong, Hanover, Seville, Wiesbaden and elsewhere.
Royal Swedish Orchestra
The Royal Swedish Orchestra traces its origins from the
Court Chapel of 1526 and is one of the world’s oldest orchestras. In 1773
Gustavus III transformed it into an opera orchestra as well. As the only
professional orchestra in nineteenth-century Sweden it also regularly gave
concerts with symphonic and vocal works. Since the beginning of the twentieth
century the orchestra has grown from around sixty to a complement of some
Royal Swedish Opera Chorus
The Royal Swedish Opera Chorus was created in 1773 for the
first Swedish opera. It is still the largest and one of the few full-time
choruses employed in Sweden. At the transfer to the newly built Gustavian Opera
House at Gustav Adolf’s Torg in 1782, it is said to have counted eighty members,
but the number dwindled in the nineteenth century. During the co-existence with
the Royal Dramatic Theatre until 1887 chorus members also frequently took minor
spoken parts in drama and musical plays. From 1900 to the present the chorus
has grown from around forty to sixty members. Every season the Royal Opera
Chorus participates in about fifteen different opera productions, in concerts
and in recordings such as Ingvar Lidholm’s A Dream Play, Tchaikovsky’s Mazeppa,
and Berg’s Wozzeck.
Christina Hörnell studied church music and conducting at the
Royal Music Academy in Stockholm. She was appointed chorus master at the Royal
Swedish Opera in 1994. She is also the conductor of the Academic Chorus in
Stockholm, and has led courses in choral conducting in Sweden, Austria and
Italy among other countries. She has also served as a guest conductor with the
Swedish Radio Chorus.
Folke Alin studied at the Royal Music Academy in Stockholm.
He was appointed chorus master at the Royal Swedish Opera in 1998. He is
vice-conductor and accompanist with the famous Orphei Drängar (OD) in Uppsala
and worked as pianist and chorus master at Folkoperan Stockholm from 1987 to
The Spanish conductor Alberto Hold-Garrido studied at the
Music Conservatory in Copenhagen and at the Sibelius-Academy in Helsinki. He
was assistant conductor and conductor at Finland’s National Opera from 1994 to
1997. From 1997 to 1999 conductor, director of music in 2001 and principal
conductor in 2002-2003 at the Royal Swedish Opera Stockholm, where he has
conducted Otello, Rigoletto, Don Carlos, Der fliegende Holländer, Das
Rheingold, Lohengrin, Tannhäuser, Norma, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Carmen, La
Bohème, and Carmina Burana, among other works, as well as concerts. He has also
appeared as a guest conductor at the Savonlinna Festival in Finland, the
Dalhalla in Sweden, the National Opera Helsinki with the Nordic première of
Puccini’s La Rondine among other productions, Frankfurt Opera, Welsh National
Opera and elsewhere.
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VERDI: Don Carlos