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Introduction

Don Carlos falls in love with Elizabeth, daughter of Henry II of France. But his father, King Philip II of Spain, intends to marry her himself to secure a peace treaty. Can Don Carlos give up his love for the good of the state?

Background

Politics and religion are dangerously entwined in Giuseppe Verdi’s Don Carlo. Based on a 1787 play by Friedrich Schiller, Don Carlo was first performed at the Paris Opéra in 1867. Verdi made extensive revisions to the opera over the following 20 years. This production by Nicholas Hytner follows the five-act 1882 version – Verdi’s final thoughts on the work.

Don Carlo contains a host of vividly drawn characters, depicted through some of Verdi’s most complex music. The chilling Grand Inquisitor imposes his will in thunderous, dark-toned music, while the revolutionary Marquis of Posa sings a stirring duet with Don Carlos in praise of freedom. And in Eboli and Elizabeth, Verdi created two of his most sympathetic heroines. The Royal Opera’s staging provides a powerful backdrop, and conjures up the Renaissance splendour of 16th-century France and Spain.

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