Unique item - Library of Congress document where F. Pullman is claiming to have the rights to the opera Don Carlos - Grand Tragic Opera - In Five Acts - Music by Giuseppe Verdi. This document is dated 9th day of April, 1877 and is signed by the Librarian of Congree and has an emobssed seal. This item is over 132 years old.
Don Carlos is a five-act Grand Opera composed by Giuseppe Verdi to a French language libretto by Camille du Locle and Joseph Méry, based on the dramatic play Don Carlos, Infant von Spanien ("Don Carlos, Infante of Spain") by Friedrich Schiller. The story is based on conflicts in the life of Carlos, Prince of Asturias (1545-1568) after his betrothed Elisabeth of Valois was married instead to his father Philip II of Spain as part of the peace treaty ending the Italian War of 1551-1559 between the Houses of Habsburg and Valois. It received its first performance at the Théâtre Impérial de l’Opéra on 11 March 1867.
Over the next twenty years, cuts and additions were made to the opera, resulting in a number of versions being available to directors and conductors. No other Verdi opera exists in so many versions. At its full-length (including the ballet and the cuts made before the first performance), it contains about four hours of music, and is Verdi's longest opera.
Pre-première cuts and first published edition
Verdi made a number of cuts in 1866, after finishing the opera but before composing the ballet, simply because the work was becoming too long. These comprised:
a duet for Elisabeth and Eboli in Act 4, Scene 1
a duet for Carlos and the King after the death of Posa in Act 4, Scene 2
an exchange between Elisabeth and Eboli during the insurrection in the same scene
After the ballet had been composed, it emerged during the 1867 rehearsal period that, without further cuts, the opera would not finish before midnight (the time by which patrons would need to leave in order to catch the last trains to the Paris suburbs). Verdi then authorised some further cuts, as follows:
The introduction to Act 1, with a chorus of woodcutters and their wives, and including the first appearance of Elisabeth
A short entry solo for Posa ("J'étais en Flandres") in Act 2, Scene 1
Part of the dialogue between the King and Posa at the end of Act 2, Scene 2
The opera, as first published at the time of the première, consisted of Verdi's original conception, minus all of the above cuts but including the ballet.
Further authorised and unauthorised Paris cuts
After the première and before leaving Paris, Verdi authorised the Opéra authorities to end Act 4, Scene 2 with the death of Posa (thus omitting the insurrection scene) if they thought fit. After his departure, further (unauthorised) cuts were apparently made during the remaining performances.
First translation into Italian
A translation of Don Carlos into Italian was in preparation by Achille de Lauzières as early as the autumn of 1866, and Verdi insisted that the opera, still referred to as Don Carlos, be given in the same five act version plus ballet as at the Paris Opera. This Italian translation - with some cuts and alterations - was presented first at the Royal Italian Opera House, Covent Garden in London (now the Royal Opera House) on 4 June 1867 (conductor: Michael Costa), and received its Italian premiere - uncut - at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna on 27 October of that year, conducted by Angelo Mariani.
Further revisions to the music and the text
Following an unsuccessful performance in Naples in 1871, Verdi was persuaded to visit the city for further performances in 1872-3, and he made two more modifications to the score:
additions to the scene for Posa and the King in Act 2, scene 2 (Italian verses by Antonio Ghislanzoni) to replace some of the previously cut material. This is the only portion of the entire opera that was ever composed by Verdi to an Italian rather than a French text.
cuts to the duet between Carlos and Elisabeth in Act 5.
The idea of reducing the scope and scale of Don Carlos had originally come to Verdi in 1875, partly as a result of his having heard reports of productions, such as Costa's, which had removed Act 1 and the ballet and introduced cuts to other parts of the opera. By April 1882, he was in Paris where he was ready to make changes. He was already familiar with the work of Charles-Louis-Etienne Nuitter, who had worked on French translations of Macbeth, La forza del destino, and Aida with du Locle, and the three proceeded to spend nine months on major revisions of the French text and the music to create a 4-act version. This omitted Act 1 and the ballet, and was completed by March 1883.
An Italian translation of this revised French text, re-using much of the original 1866 translation by de Lauzières, was made by Angelo Zanardini. The La Scala, Milan, première of the revision, now re-titled Don Carlo, took place on 10 January 1884.
Although Verdi had accepted the need to remove the first act, it seems that he changed his mind and allowed a performance on 29 December 1886 in Modena which presented the “Fontainebleau’’ first act along with the revised 4-act version. This version was published by Ricordi as “a new edition in five acts without ballet”.
Subsequent performance history
Performances of Don Carlos/Don Carlo in the first half of the twentieth century were rare, but in the post Second World War period it has been regularly performed, particularly in the four-act 1883 'Milanese' version. Following the notable 1958 staging of the 1886 five-act Italian version at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (director Luchino Visconti), this version has increasingly been performed elsewhere and has been recorded by, among others, Georg Solti and Carlo Maria Giulini.
Finally, stagings and recordings of the original five-act French version of the opera have become more frequent, performances having been given at the Teatro alla Scala in 1970 featuring Plácido Domingo with Katia Ricciarelli, at the Théâtre du Châtelet in 1996, with Roberto Alagna as Don Carlos (which has been released on CD and DVD), and at the San Francisco Opera in 2003. A five-act version with the parts not performed in the first Paris première (all the pre-première cuts) was staged at Staatsoper, Vienna (2006) and at Liceu, Barcelona; its conductor was Bertrand de Billy.
History from Wikipedia and OldCompany.com (old stock certificate research service).
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