In four acts by VERDI.
Text by MERY and CAMILLA DU LOCLE.
This opera is one of the first of Verdi's. It was half forgotten, when
being suddenly recalled to the stage it met with considerable success.
The music is fine and highly dramatic in many parts.
The scene of action lies in Spain. Don Carlos, Crown-prince of Spain
comes to the convent of St. Just, where his grand-father, the Emperor
Charles the Fifth has just been buried. Carlos bewails his separation
from his step-mother, Elizabeth of Valois, whom he loves with a sinful
passion. His friend, the Marquis Posa reminds him of his duty and
induces him to leave Spain for Flanders, where an unhappy nation sighs
under the cruel rule of King Philip's governors.--Carlos has an
interview with the Queen, but beside himself with grief he again
declares his love, though having resolved only to ask for her
intervention with the King, on behalf of his mission to Flanders.
Elizabeth asks him to think of duty and dismisses him. Just then her
jealous husband enters, and finding her lady of honor, Countess
Aremberg, absent, banishes the latter from Spain. King Philip favors
Posa with his particular confidence, though the latter is secretly the
friend of Carlos, who is ever at variance with his wicked father. Posa
uses his influence with the King for the best of the people, and
Philip, putting entire confidence in him, orders him to watch his wife.
The second act represents a fete in the royal gardens at Madrid, where
Carlos mistakes the Princess Eboli for the Queen and betrays his
unhappy love. The Princess, loving Carlos herself, and having nurtured
hopes of her love being responded to, takes vengeance. She possesses
herself of a casket in which the Queen keeps Carlos' portrait, a
love-token from her maiden-years, and surrenders it to Philip. The
King, though conscious of his wife's innocence, is more than ever
jealous of his son, and seeks for an occasion to put him out of the
way. It is soon found, when Carlos defies him at an autodafe of
heretics. Posa himself is obliged to deprive Carlos of his sword, and
the latter is imprisoned. The King has an interview with the
Grand-Inquisitor, who demands the death of Don Carlos, asserting him to
be a traitor to his country. As Philip demurs, the priest asks Posa's
life as the more dangerous of the two. The King, who never loved a
human being except Posa, the pure-hearted Knight, yields to the
power of the church.
In the following scene Elizabeth, searching for her casket, is accused
of infidelity by her husband. The Princess Eboli, seeing the trouble
her mischievous jealousy has brought upon her innocent mistress,
penitently confesses her fault and is banished from court. In the last
scene of the third act Carlos is visited by Posa, who explains to him,
that he has only imprisoned him in order to save him, and that he has
announced to the King, that it was himself, Posa, who excited rebellion
in Flanders. While they speak, Posa is shot by an arquebusier of the
royal guard; Philip enters the cell to present his sword to Carlos, but
the son turns from his father with loathing and explains his friend's
pious fraud. While Philip bewails the loss of the best man in Spain,
loud acclamations are heard from the people, who hearing that their
prince is in danger desire to see him.
In the last act the Queen, who promised Posa to watch over Carlos,
meets him once more in the convent of St. Just. They are surprised by
the King, who approaches, accompanied by the Grand-Inquisitor, and into
his hands the unhappy Carlos is at last delivered.
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