Intricate and beautiful musical storytelling are at the core of Don Carlos, Verdi’s operatic interpretation of the doomed love story of Elisabeth de Valois and Don Carlos, Infante of Spain. Luc Bondy’s 1996 French-language production featured a cast of true all-stars, with Roberto Alagna (Don Carlos), Thomas Hampson (Rodrigue), Karita Mattila (Elisabeth de Valois), and Sir Antonio Pappano at the head of the Orchestre de Paris.
Based on Friedrich Schiller’s eponymous play, Verdi’s opera Don Carlos was inspired by real historical events of the mid-16th century: as part of a peace treaty between the Houses of Habsburg and Valois, Elisabeth of Valois was required to marry King Philip II of Spain, abruptly cancelling her previous betrothal to Philip’s son, Carlos. Originally composed on a French libretto and premiered in Paris' Salle Le Peletier in 1867, the opera would see success only in a shortened version translated into Italian and premiered in London later that same year. This 1996 production at the Théâtre du Châtelet represented one of the recent revivals of the opera in the original French, and was celebrated for its exemplary cast and elegant staging.