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Theatre / Don Carlo

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Don Carlo is an 1867 opera by Giuseppe Verdi, after the play Don Carlos by Friedrich von Schiller. The plot of both the play and the opera is very loosely based on the events surrounding the real Don Carlos, son of Philip II, King of Spain. Basically, it goes like this: Don Carlos, the Prince of Spain, was engaged to the French princess Élisabeth of Valois, but just as the two lovebirds meet and strike Love at First Sight, Carlos' father, King Philip, decides to take the girl for himself. There's also Don Carlos' best friend Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa, who tries to get Carlos to help the oppressed region of Flanders, there's the Princess of Eboli stalking Don Carlos, and many other characters with their own issues. Being an opera, it does not end well.

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Don Carlo was originally composed for the Paris opera (as Don Carlos) and was translated into Italian later. Now, though, the Italian version is more common. The opera was originally in five acts, with a prologue where we see Carlos and Elizabeth meet and begin to fall in love. Some time after the premiere, Verdi revised the opera and created a shorter version without the prologue, but he also authorized performances of the five-act version, and both are still performed, along with other versions that restore material that was cut in the original production or the revision. However, the plot and most of the numbers remain the same in all versions.


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