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Subject: DON CARLOS in Edinburgh
From: Jane Ennis <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jane Ennis <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 17 Aug 2008 16:00:39 -0400

text/plain (80 lines)

(This was actually a performance of the PLAY, not the opera, but I thought 
some members might be interested).

Just back from DON CARLOS at the Fringe. It was performed by an
amateur company called SEDOS...some info here...

Uh....they did it without the Grand Inquisitor!! yes, tht's right,
they did it without the Grand Inquisitor. So how does this work? I
did say it would be cut to the bone, and I was right. After Posa's
death scene - very movingly done, BTW, ending with Carlos carrying
Posa's body off in his arms, after his confrontation with Philip -
the scene which should include the Grand Inquisitor is reduced to a
few lines in which Philip decides that he is justified in ordering
the death of his son in order to save his empire. References to the
Inquistion and its power are in fact minimised, it is just mentioned
in the Philip/Posa scene.
The version is the adaptation by Mike Poulton, which Miriam and I saw
in 2005, in the production by Michael Grandage. The first scene (with
Carlos and Domingo, the King's confessor) is cut altogether, so it
starts with the reunion of Carlos and Posa. As I said, it is cut so
as to fit into the allocated time of an hour and a half, but I think
it sort of managed to convey the general gist of Schiller's idea,
certainly the emphasis on freedom for Flanders to which Posa and
Carlos have dedicated themselves - or rather, to which Posa has
dedicated himself, and his disappointment when Carlos shows no further
interest because of his love for Elisabeth.
I don't know what the actors do IRL - I think some of them are
stockbrokers - but I thought the King Philip -Richard Reeve - gave a
verygood performance as the increasingly beleaguered king, driven to
desperation by the machinations of Domingo and the Duke of Alba.
Which gives rise to the reflection - if Verdi was allowed to adapt
the plot so as to omit these characters - who are vital in Schiller -
perhaps it is also permissible to omit the Grand Inquisitor? It did
sort of work without him, it is just that of course I was expecting
this confrontation.
The Princess Eboli was Chloe Faine -= she played her as almost
hysterically flirtatious, again the scene with Carlos was cut to its
basics, but later the scene where she confesses to Elisabeth what she
has done was very effective, because of the latent hysteria of the
character, as she sobbed desperately in remorse.
I should just add that it's done in a very small space ( typical
Edinbrugh Fringe venue!) with no scenery except a chair to represent
the King's throne. The play is actually a very intimate piece, which
one may not realise if one only knows the opera, there are very
rarely more than two or three characters on the stage at any one time.
Perhaps a little bit over-ambitious for an amateur company, but they
obviously love the play and wanted to bring Schiller to a wider
audience. One mistake, though, was the same mistake as was made in
Michael Grandage's production - in the final meeting with Elisabeth,
Carlos is now prepared to accept that she can only ever be his
mother, and voluntary addresses her as "Mutter". This is the point at
which she might be allowed to give him a maternal peck on the cheek -
but no, they exchange a passionate kiss. Schiller is quite clear
about the fact that the time for this is past (if, indeed, it ever
existed), and actually so is Verdi (Adieu, ma mere, adieu mon fils!)
But interestingly, at the the scene in which Posa goes to take
farewell of Elisabeth, and tells her he is going to sacrifice himself
for Carlos, and it is up to her now to guide and encourage him - he
embraces her and it almost seems as if they're about to kiss....and
actually I don't think this is contrary to Schiller's intentions,
since Posa and Elisabeth always speak of and to each other in terms
of - well, admiration. She doesn't precisely admit that she loves
him, she just says "Ich schaetze keinen Mann mehr" (there is no man I
admire more than you") and he's overwhelmed with emotion on hearing
I was wondering if I'd see anyone I knew!! But I didn't....
Dr. Jane Susanna ENNIS

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