A large alabaster tower will dominate the scenography of Don Carlo by Giuseppe Verdi, the work chosen by maestro Riccardo Chailly to inaugurate the 2023/2024 Season of the Teatro alla Scala on Thursday 7 December. And the atmospheres that will be created on the stage will seem to recall the modern paintings of great Spanish artists such as El Greco, Francisco Goya and Diego Velázquez, suggestions chosen to recall the clash between Philip II of Spain and his son Don Carlo.
The scenography revolution: Don Carlo returns to the Milanese temple of world opera in a great production that reflects the dual nature of historical drama and romantic manifesto, highlighting the extraordinary artists and craftsmen who work in the laboratories of La Scala. Was created a unique stage systemwhich transforms without interrupting the action in the different spaces foreseen by the libretto thanks to the spectacular alternation of colossal scenographic elements.
The themes: Verdi proposes the themes dear to him of the freedom of feelings, the difficult relationship between fathers and children and the liberation of oppressed peoples against the backdrop of the conflict between temporal and religious power. To create the atmosphere suspended between ecclesiastical and secular environments, director Lluís Pasqual and set designer Daniel Bianco referred to the use of alabaster in the windows of religious but also civil buildings and in particular the large window of the Collegiate Church of Santa María La Mayor in the Spanish city of Toro. A large alabaster tower is framed in a system of gates which also recur in religious and civil architecture. The scene
allows to cut out in the large spaces of the stage i numerous moments of intimacy and isolation that punctuate the tragedy.
The new setup of Don Carlo Scaligero will take the spectator behind the scenes of the ‘show of power‘: even the auto-da-fé, a dazzling and macabre ceremony of self-representation of absolutism, not too different from the mechanisms of today’s propaganda, is shown above all in the moment of preparation and only a few minutes are reserved for the ‘party’ in its grandiloquent exteriority. Here stands a colossal gilded and finely decorated retable.
The costumes: These spaces are animated by the pictorialism of costumes by Franca Squarciapinowhich take up the clothing represented in the portraiture of the time but lighten it in the choice of materials, guaranteeing ease of movement and a certain romantic vitality to the characters.
The structure is documented but not necessarily philological: although placed in their era, the protagonists represent emotions and human characteristics present in all times. The prevailing color is black, not intended as an expression of mortification or mourning but as a display of power and wealth: in the 16th century, black velvets and brocades were among the most valuable fabrics.
Sold out: For the Before La Scala, already sold out in every order of seating, from the stalls to the boxes, the Theater fields a stellar cast: Francesco Meli as Don Carlo, Anna Netrebko as Elizabeth of Valois, Michele Pertusi as Philip II, Elīna Garanča as Princess of Eboli, Luca Salsi as Marquis of Pose and Ain Anger as Grand Inquisitor. The work – which inaugurated the Season in 1868, 1878, 1912, 1926, 1968, 1977, 1992 and 2008 – it will be directed by musical director Riccardo Chailly on the podium of the Teatro alla Scala Orchestra. Protagonist of no less importance is the Teatro alla Scala Chorus directed by Alberto Malazzi. The scenes are by Daniel Biancothe costumes by Franca Squarciapino, the lights by Pascal Mérat, the videos by Franc Aleu and the choreography by Nuria Castejón.