The Guardian, 6 May 2013
George Hall
Verdi: Don Carlo, Royal Opera House London, 4. Mai 2013
Don Carlo – review **** 
Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian
Superb … Anja Harteros and Jonas Kaufmann in Don Carlo at the Royal Opera House, London.
Just as there is no definitive version of Verdi's largest opera, so a flawless performance of this vast piece could only exist in the imagination. Nicholas Hytner's 2008 production, revived by Paul Higgins, delivers a compelling account of Verdi's final revision (in the standard Italian translation of the original French). The work's anger and despair register powerfully.

Several of the performances are outstanding. Jonas Kaufmann negotiates even the trickiest of Don Carlo's vocal corners with his focused tone intact, and varies his coloristic range to superb effect; his physical delineation of Verdi's doomed, unstable hero experiencing his every ambition crumble into dust is finely achieved. As his father, Philip II, the vocally authoritative Ferruccio Furlanetto never loses sight of the pain and loneliness beneath the imperial carapace. Mariusz Kwiecień is direct and articulate as the liberal idealist Rodrigo, the vitality of his tone as unstinting as his dramatic engagement.

Much of Anja Harteros's Elizabeth of Valois is on a similar level of excellence, though her ample tone sometimes has a glaring quality. Béatrice Uria-Monzon's Eboli is more mixed: while she embodies the princess's dangerous glamour effectively, her vocalism has too many rough edges. Eric Halfvarson presents an unusually malignant Grand Inquisitor, and Robert Lloyd's sepulchral Charles V inescapably suggests a visitor from beyond the grave.

Antonio Pappano drives the evening along with vivid, perfectly paced conducting; but the auto-da-fé remains awkwardly staged, and the newly invented Priest Inquisitor's spoken scene with the heretics still seems a jarring interpolation.

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