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8.660096-98 - VERDI: Don Carlos
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Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)

Don Carlos


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 Spanish Infante.


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 Italy.


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 1866.


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 certain character.


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.


Gunilla Petersén


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

(= Milan).


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.


Stefan Johansson

Head of dramaturgy

Royal Swedish Opera





CD 1


[1] – [8]  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.




[9] – [13]  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.


[14] – [26]  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.


CD 2




[1] – [7]  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.


[8] – [13]  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.



[14] – [26]  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.


CD 3


[1] – [9]  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.


[10] – [17]  ACT V


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 hundred members.

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


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


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 1998.



Alberto Hold-Garrido


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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