Verdi - Don Carlos

Don Carlos is by no means a light opera - but that doesn't mean that Verdi's towering work isn't worth persevering with.

Right - get yourself comfortable, because Verdi's Don Carlos is something of an epic. He was forever tinkering with it and trying to cut the length down, but with five acts to get through, you'd be lucky to get change from four hours in your seat.

Does that mean it's a total bore to listen to? Of course not! Thanks to the gorgeously lyrical writing that Verdi was developing (he was really coming into his stride by the time Don Carlos was composed in 1867) and a dense story that takes in the familial machinations of the Spanish royal family.

Taking in war, romance, deception and all sorts of heavy themes besides, it's not an easy one to crack, but if you give it time those themes combine with the tunes to make something quite special.

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