For Don Carlos, his life’s work, based on the theatre classic by Friedrich Schiller, Giuseppe Verdi composed a sensuous tragedy about the impossible love between the Spanish king's son Carlos and his young stepmother Elizabeth. In exchange for peace with France, she has married Carlos' father, the harsh Philip II. If there is anyone who can help Carlos out of his self-chosen role of victim, then it is his loyal friend Rodrigo, who, at risk of losing his life, commit himself to rebellious Flanders which is terrorized by Spain. This gives rise to a dangerous game of political interests and amorous intrigues.
The boundaries separating memory and dream, religion and madness become blurred. Don Carlos is a passionate story about man in all his uncertainty and vulnerability, within a social system in which ideological fronts have become rock-hard. This is a plea for humanism and idealism and the perfect start to the season.
Opera Ballet Vlaanderen presents Don Carlos in the definitive form Verdi gave to his French-language grand opéra. Director Johan Simons, who is one of today’s most prominent European theatre-makers, has long been fascinated by the explosive and revolutionary theme of Schiller’s original play.
Together with visual artist Hans Op de Beeck and costume designer Greta Goiris, he develops a scenic world that is fundamentally conceived from the perspective of Don Carlos: theatrical, elusive and fundamentally unjust. The visual language refers, among other things, to the oeuvre of artists of the 16th-century Netherlands, such as Pieter Bruegel and Hieronymus Bosch. In this new production of Verdi’s masterpiece, the musical director is the Argentinian conductor Alejo Pérez.