Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Insights on Don Carlo from Ferruccio Furlanetto and Simon Keenlyside

Simon Keenlyside as Rodrigo and Ferruccio Furlanetto as King Philip II
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

This particular trasmission of Don Carlo, which was part of the Met Live in HD had aa rich collection of mid-production interviews with the cast. During the live transmission of Don Carlo, Deborah Voigt interviewed both Ferruccio Furlanetto and Simon Keenlyside.

She asked about Furlanetto about his motivation in the great duet between Philip and Rodrigo that closes Act II:

"Philip," replied Furlanetto, "in his court cannot find anybody that he can trust. He has a very bad relationship with his son [Don Carlo], and Rodrigo is the only man in his court on whom he can rely. He is the son he would have loved to have, instead of poor Carlos."

"Therefore it is the only moment in which you can see Philip opening his heart to somebody. You will never see it in the rest of the opera, except in the big aria (act IV scene I) when I am alone, and am opening my heart. But to another person this is the only time."

It is wonderful how Furlanetto switched from pronouns that signify his character to those that signify himself. Voigt asked Keenlyside what fuels the relationship between Rodrigo and Don Carlo:

"I must be manipulative," responded Keenlyside seemingly in character, "but not too manipulative. Because the ring-master in this piece is Philip. And this scene that you've just seen (Act II scene II) that through coercion, through persuasion, through flattery, Philip gets what he wants from the young idealist. An idealist and a zealot I must be. But at the same time, Carlos is fragile, and I want him to do something for me. I need him to maintain this pact we've had since childhood about freedom for Flanders. So I have to try to be manipulative as a character, but not too much so. I don't want to be in the same camp as Philip, otherwise I ruin the dynamic between the two of us."

Keenlyside is the inversion of Furlanetto--he starts in character then suddenly, and seemingly unconsciously, breaks free to speak about "the character." Voigt moves back to Furlanetto:

"This man, historically at that time," said Furlanetto about Philip, "was the most powerful man on Earth. Nevertheless he had terrible moments of solitude; he was just a normal human being. Therefore he is very happy because of the relationship he has with his son. [...] And of course there is this political turmoil in his brain because even though he is the most powerful man on Earth, he knows that the Church is over him. Every major decision will be made by the Church and not by the king."

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