In order to test my hypothesis that it is possible to contract Deep Vein Thrombosis whilst watching an opera, I went to see the 3.5 hour epic Don Carlos at Leeds Grand Theatre last week. But way back in 1867, Giuseppe Verdi must have foreseen that the seats in the balcony of this fine theatre would be designed for pigmies and children only. Although there was only one interval, he thoughtfully planned the opera in four acts with a total of six scene changes. My calves yelled with delight each time the curtain fell and I was able to stand for a few brief but exquisite seconds.
As an opera, Don Carlos has it all. Intrigue, deception, death, war, royalty and of course, adultery, all of which delivered by a huge cast. I know you southern types have Sadlers Wells and the Royal Opera House, but up here where it’s cold, wet and cheap… Well we have got Opera North and we are justifiably proud. This was one of the best productions I have seen with the pick of the cast being William Dazely as Rodrigo, veteran of equally excellent ON productions of Let ’em Eat Cake and Of Thee I Sing where he was a great President – John P Wintergreen.
Anyway back to Spain where Don Carlos (son of Philip II King of Spain) had to suffer the ignominy and heartache of having his promised love, Elisabeth de Valois, marry his father in a political settlement, and as you can imagine, that makes for a promising start to any story.