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Don Carlos
Title Page
Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Don Carlos
  • Giuseppe Verdi. Opéra in five acts. 1867. Revised in four acts in 1884.
  • Libretto by Joseph Méry and Camille du Locle, after Schiller's dramatic poem Don Carlos, Infant von Spanien (Don Carlos, Infante of Spain).
  • First performance at the Paris Opéra on 11th March 1867.
Philip II, King of Spain bass
Don Carlos, Infante of Spain tenor
Rodrigue (Rodrigo), Marquis of Posa baritone
Elisabeth de Valois, later Queen of Spain soprano
Princess Eboli, her lady- in- waiting mezzo-soprano
Thibault (Tebaldo), her page soprano
Grand Inquisitor bass
A Monk bass
Count of Lerma tenor
Royal Herald tenor
Heavenly Voice soprano
Flemish Deputies & Inquisitors basses

Don Carlos arrives in France, in secret, anxious to see his proposed bride, Elisabeth de Valois, with whom he falls in love, revealing to her his true identity. She is warned that now the King of Spain himself desires her hand for himself and not for his son. In a monastery Don Carlos recalls the stories of how his grandfather, Charles V, did not die but remains as a monk. He is induced by his friend Rodrigo to support the people of Flanders, but is moved by the sight of the King and his Queen, as they pass the tomb of Charles V. Princess Eboli, herself in love with Carlos, imagines this love returned. A scene between Elisabeth and Don Carlos is filled with emotion, as Don Carlos rushes away distraught. Rodrigo asks the King to send him to Flanders and seeks a lessening of severity in Spain's official policy. The King warns him of the power of the Inquisition. In the palace gardens, while a masked ball is in progress within, Don Carlos waits for the arrival of the Queen, and seeing a figure whom he thinks to be Elisabeth declares his love, only to find that it is Princess Eboli, at which he cannot hide his true feelings. She is resolved on revenge. As heretics are to be put to death, Don Carlos pleads for Flanders before the King and has to be disarmed by Rodrigo. The Inquisitor advises the King that Rodrigo must be punished rather than Don Carlos. Finding the portrait of his son in the Queen's jewel-case, the King accuses her of adultery, and left together with Princess Eboli, who confesses her rôle in this and her adultery with the King, the Queen dismisses her from her service. Imprisoned, Carlos is visited by Rodrigo, who takes the blame for letters sent to Carlos from the Flemish patriots. Rodrigo is shot by an assassin who has followed him. The opera ends as the Queen and Don Carlos meet by the tomb of Charles V. The King has overheard and emerges from behind the tomb, with the Grand Inquisitor, demanding the death of his son. The voice of the old Emperor is heard and a figure comes forward, the old Emperor or a monk in disguise, to take Don Carlos into the safety of the monastery.

Verdi was induced to shorten his opera by omitting the ballet scene for the palace ball in the original third act and the first act, set in France. The score includes, for Princess Eboli, the Moorish romance, the Veil Song , Au palais des fées (At the fairies' palace), the tale of a Moorish king who by mistake wooed his own wife in the garden, a premonition of the mistake that Don Carlos is to make himself, when he mistakenly woos Princess Eboli. Elle ne m'aime pas (She does not love me), sung by the King, is followed by his duet with the old blind Grand Inquisitor, Suis-je devant le Roi? (Am I before the King?). There is much else in a powerful work, representative throughout of Verdi at the height of his powers.


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