Verdi Don Carlo
It is almost 30 years since Giulini's epoch-making and revealing revival of Don Carlos at Covent Garden; it is 17 years since this recording of virtually what was heard at Covent Garden appeared (the 1886 version of the score) using Royal Opera forces—the work had been regularly revived there in the years between. Its appearance on CD is more than welcome and really doesn't come into rivalry with the Abbado/DG (CD 415 316-2GH4, 12/85) because that uses the original version (with appendices) and is sung in French rather than the much more familiar Italian translation encountered on EMI.
Its overriding advantage lies in Giulini's commanding and searching direction, encountering the work as the huge canvas it is and holding together its disparate elements with an unerring control. Not all the the members of the cast are ideal. I find Raimondi too light and too characterless for Philip, Milnes hardly the equal of Gobbi on the earlier EMI set. On the other hand, Elisabetta's music can scarcely ever have been sung more beautifully than by Caballe, in her absolute prime in 1970—as was Verrett, a properly nervous and eager Eboli. Domingo, was at the start of his career, and did not have quite the personality and commitment he later showed for Abbado, but his actual singing has a security seldom matched elsewhere in this role, at once heroic, ardent and impulsive. Two caveats, however: the bells which should accompany the opening of the auto da fe scene have been left off this CD transfer and the disc layout details in the booklet are hopelessly confused.'