I am not sure why the national newspapers have failed to review the revival of Verdi’s Don Carlo at Grange Park Opera.
There have been significant cast changes since Wasfi Kani first presented Jo Davies’ production in 2016 and the show is now housed in a purpose-built 700-seater, where the terror of the Inquisition feels at times both personal and overpowering.
Of the two survivors of the original cast, Clive Bailey adds a Trump hairstyle to Philipp II, alternating menance with caprice in a manner that feels all too familiar. The voice, too, is richly convincing.
Ruxandra Dunose sings a troubled Eboli, teetering on the edge of her emotions.
Marina Costa-Jackson is a standout Elisabetta, Brett Polegato is superb as Rodrigo. Leonardo Capalbo tries slightly too hard to be liked in the title role and I do not ever want to see Branislav Jatic’s Grand Inquisitor again: he scared the pants off me. The orchestra came from English National Opera. It seemed to play better away from home. Gianluca Marciano kept the tempi really taut.
I like the Grange Park experience. It has none of Glyndebourne’s City yahoos with their double-magnums and noisy ignorance, and few of Covent Garden’s tetchy oldies. The atmosphere, bucolic on arrival, deepens with psychological intentisty as the opera unfolds.
Why the national media don’t pay more attention is a mystery, but then they let us down in so many other ways.
Grange Park is a word-of-mouth treasure and its Don Carlo a gem. Don’t all rush there at once.