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*** VERDI: "DON CARLO." Galina Gorchakova, Olga Borodina, Richard Margison, Roberto Scandiuzzi, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, others; Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Bernard Haitink, cond. (Philips Classica, 3 CDs)

January 04, 1998|Daniel Cariaga

Splendid playing and conducting and a generally first-rate cast produce a thrilling "Don Carlo" in the much maligned but still effective 1886 version--in Italian, not the original French Verdi is said to have preferred. Haitink leads his Covent Garden forces with musical solidity and theatrical drive; the orchestra and chorus respond with wondrous and ever-contrasting Verdian brilliance. Margison assumes the title role with tenorial heroism and unstrained drama. His Elisabetta, the versatile Russian soprano Gorchakova, conquers all difficulties, though not always with ease. Borodina makes of both the Veil Song and "O don fatale" perfect operatic statements combining mood, character and virtuoso singing. On a similar artistic level, Hvorostovsky invests Rodrigo's music with rich sound, textual nuance and conviction. The gifted Scandiuzzi, with apparently endless resources of tone and color, chooses to understate; in his scene with the Grand Inquisitor, he sounds more like a 90-year-old debater than a reigning king. Robert Lloyd sings the Inquisitor with great vigor.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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