Verdi - Don Carlo / Pavarotti, Dessi, Ramey, d'Intino, Coni, Muti, La Scala Opera
This is a highly professional, sometimes outstanding production of one of Verdi's greatest operas. With lavish staging by Franco Zeffirelli and distinguished performances by Luciano Pavarotti (Don Carlo) and Samuel Ramey (King Philip), as well as the La Scala Orchestra and Chorus, under Riccardo Muti, it can be recommended as the best available DVD edition of the four-act version that Verdi prepared in response to complaints about the production expense and the length (nearly four hours) of his five-act original.
The hard choice for a prospective owner is between the four-act and the five-act versions. Riccardo Muti, like most conductors today, omits the first act, set in the forest of Fontainebleau, in which Don Carlo meets and falls in love with the French Princess Elisabeth, who was his fiancée but instead, tragically, becomes his stepmother. This is a serious omission of thematically powerful material, and James Levine and the Metropolitan Opera include it, beautifully produced, in their all-star video with Placido Domingo in the title role. --Joe McLellan
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