Shirley Verrett RIP and Don Carlos

I discovered this in an idle moment ….

Shirley Verrett was one of the greatest mezzo sopranos of the twentieth century who sadly died last year.

Here she’s singing Princess Eboli’s great aria from Act IV Verdi’s Don Carlos….O don fatale…. it’s taken from a special made for BBC TV in 1971…she gives one hell of a performance….

I remember one Sunday afternoon in the early 1980s being home in Maidenhead by myself and on BBC2 there was a production of Don Carlos from the Metropolitan Opera in New York…. and I’d heard of it and already heard this famous aria…I thought well I’ll give it half and hour…there’s nothing else on….five hours later….

I had stumbled across one of the most important works in Literature outside Hamlet…

Schiller’s Don Carlos is a staggering dramatic achievement equal to anything Shakespeare wrote..but Verdi’s opera piles his genius on Schiller’s genius…though it has many wonderful moments….the entire fourth act itself a monumental artistic achievement…but the scene between Philip II and the Grand Inquisitor is truly extraordinary. It may lack the fierce melodies of the rest of the opera but it speaks the cold language of political power. Verdi insisted that the scene should be set in full…using only Schiller’s words…that’s genius for you….

O don fatale
Shirley Verrett as Eboli “O don fatale” from Don Carlo

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