Vincent Pontet / OnP

Vincent Pontet / OnP

Opera

Don Carlos

Giuseppe Verdi

Opéra Bastille

from 29 March to 25 April 2025

from €15 to €200

4h40 with 2 intervals

Don Carlos

Opéra Bastille - from 29 March to 25 April 2025

Synopsis

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Verdi’s Don Carlos, commissioned by the Paris Opera where it premiered in 1867, brought a new direction to the composer’s musical inspiration: a dark and intense score, in which political, religious and moral issues stir characters in the throes of inner torment.

Flowing into the mould of French grand opera without abandoning melodic richness, the composer of La Traviata and Rigoletto places less emphasis on the love story than on broader themes such as the solitude of power or the thirst for freedom, embodied by the Spanish infant, Don Carlos, and his friend Rodrigue, defender of the Flemish people.

This fascinating work’s Shakespearean dimension was bound to appeal to Krzysztof Warlikowski, whose staging reveals the secret inner worlds of the characters, prisoners of the court, the Church and etiquette.

Duration : 4h40 with 2 intervals

Language : French

Surtitle : French / English

Show acts and characters

CHARACTERS

Philippe II: King of Spain
Don Carlo: His son
Rodrigue: Marquis of Posa, and friend of Carlo
Elisabeth of Valois: Queen of Spain
Princess of Eboli: Elisabeth’s lady-in-waiting
The Grand Inquisitor: The head of the Spanish Inquisition
A monk from the monastery of Saint-Just
Thibault: Elisabeth’s page

First part

Act 1
In the forest of Fontainebleau.
The Spanish prince Don Carlo has travelled incognito to France to discreetly observe the king of France’s daughter whom he is supposed to marry in order to bring an end to the war that has pitted the two enemy powers against each other. When Don Carlo stumbles across Elisabeth in the forest, they both fall instantly in love.

However, both are unaware that Don Carlo’s father Philip II has decided to marry the young Elisabeth himself. As the people celebrate the end of the war, Elisabeth is forced to accept her unexpected fate. Don Carlo cannot conceal his distress.

Act 2
Carlo goes to the monastery of Saint-Just to meditate at the tomb of Emperor Charles V. Whilst there, Carlo thinks he hears the voice of the deceased Emperor, his grandfather, in the voice of a monk. Still haunted by his lost love, Carlo reveals his despair to his childhood friend Rodrigue, the Marquis of Posa, who has just returned from the Low Countries which are currently enduring the harshness of Spanish occupation. Rodrigue urges Carlo to withdraw from the court and leave with him to defend the Flemish cause.

As the king and queen meditate at the tomb of Charles V, Elisabeth’s ladies-in-waiting and Princess of Eboli enjoy themselves at the gates of the monastery. Rodrigue convinces Elisabeth to meet with Carlo again in the hope she will be able to persuade the king that Carlo has the means to bring peace to Flanders. Although the encounter reignites the smouldering passion of their former love, Elisabeth reminds Carlo that she is now his mother.

Not long after Carlo leaves, the king arrives. However, the latter is surprised to find the queen alone, which is counter to royal etiquette. Philip banishes the queen’s lady companion from the court and dismisses the courtiers accompanying her. Posa, alone with the king, uses the occasion to plead for the Flemish cause. The king, charmed by Rodrigue’s freedom and independence, opens up and cautiously expresses his doubts as to the true nature of the relationship between his son and the queen. He also advises him to be wary of the Inquisition.

Second part

Act 3
A ball is to be held on the eve of Philip’s coronation.
The queen prefers not to attend and suggests that Princess of Eboli exchange clothes with her to allow her to discreetly slip away. The princess, secretly in love with Carlo, arranges to meet him in the queen’s gardens. Believing he is meeting Elisabeth, Carlo showers her with passionate locutions that Eboli thinks are intended for her. Disabused, she finally realises that Carlo loves the queen and, mad with jealousy, she threatens to denounce them. Rodrigue, who has witnessed the scene, intervenes and threatens Eboli in no uncertain terms.

Understanding the seriousness of the danger, Rodrigue advises Carlo to entrust him with any compromising documents he might have in his possession. The people acclaim their king, the monks and the Inquisition and call for the damnation of the infidels during the preparations for the auto-da-fé. Leading a delegation of deputies from Brabant and Flanders, Carlo defies protocol and, without informing Rodrigue, throws himself at Philip’s feet in the hope that the latter will listen to his pleas. The king flies into a fury and reproaches them for their disloyalty.

Carlo draws his sword against his father. No one dares to intervene except for Rodrigue who, eager to avoid the worst, stops Carlo and disarms him. Carlo for his part is stunned by what he perceives as his friend’s betrayal. Philip announces that Rodrigue is to be elevated to the rank of duke. The ceremony ends with the death of a heretic.  

Third part

Act 4
Having retreated into sombre solitude, the jealous king despairs at Elisabeth’s rejection and the attitude of his son. Torn as to whether he can condemn his own son to death, he seeks the opinion of the Grand Inquisitor. God sacrificed his own, replies the latter who also asks Philip to deliver Rodrigue to him, whom he accuses of having dangerous and subversive ideas. During a harsh exchange of words, the king refuses to hand over his new, unexpected friend. The queen demands justice from her husband for the theft of her jewel box but she is astounded to find it in Philip’s possession. The latter opens the box in front of her to reveal the picture of Carlo that the latter gave her in the forest at Fontainebleau. When Philip angrily accuses her of adultery, the queen faints.

Remaining alone with the queen, Princess of Eboli is overcome with remorse and admits to having stolen the jewellery box in order to falsely implicate the queen. Not only does she express her true feelings for Carlo but she also reveals that she was the king’s mistress. Elisabeth offers her the choice between exile and a convent. Rodrigue visits Carlo in prison and tells him that he will soon be freed. He also lets him know that the compromising documents which Carlo gave him for safe keeping have been found at his home.

To these, he has added others that will prove to the king that Rodrigue and Rodrigue alone is guilty. A shot rings out. Fatally wounded, Rodrigue falls to the ground. He has just enough time to tell the Prince that Elisabeth will be waiting for him the next day at the Monastery of Saint-Just. On seeing Rodrigue’s body, the king, who has just freed his son and admitted his error, is overcome with grief and mourns for the man who managed to bring him out of his solitude. He seeks to be reconciled with his son but Carlo scorns his overtures. Incited into a fury by Eboli, the people storm the prison to free Carlo. However, the Grand Inquisitor’s intervention sows terror and the people ultimately bow before God and the king.

Act 5
Devastated by grief, Elisabeth prays before the tomb of Charles V and asks for peace in death. Carlo comes to bid farewell before leaving for Flanders. Their last emotional meeting is interrupted by the arrival of the king and the Grand Inquisitor.

The latter accuses Carlo of treason and orders his arrest but a monk leads the prince into the deepest recesses of the cloister. The king and the Grand Inquisitor are left dumbstruck after they too believe they have heard the voice of Charles V.

Artists

Opera in five acts (1867)

After Friedrich von Schiller

Creative team

Cast

The Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Media

[TRAILER] DON CARLOS by Giuseppe Verdi
[TRAILER] DON CARLOS by Giuseppe Verdi

Access and services

Opéra Bastille

Place de la Bastille

75012 Paris

Public transport

Underground Bastille (lignes 1, 5 et 8), Gare de Lyon (RER)

Bus 29, 69, 76, 86, 87, 91, N01, N02, N11, N16

Calculate my route
Car park

Q-Park Opéra Bastille 34, rue de Lyon 75012 Paris

Book your parking spot
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Imagined as benchmark, richly illustrated booklets, the programmes can be bought online, at the box offices, in our shops, and in the theatres hall on the evening of the performance.      

BUY THE PROGRAM
  • Cloakrooms

    Free cloakrooms are at your disposal. The comprehensive list of prohibited items is available here.

  • Bars

    Reservation of drinks and light refreshments for the intervals is possible online up to 24 hours prior to your visit, or at the bars before each performance.

  • Parking

    You can park your car at the Q-Park Opéra Bastille. It is located at 34 rue de Lyon, 75012 Paris. 

    BOOK YOUR PARKING PLACE.

In both our venues, discounted tickets are sold at the box offices from 30 minutes before the show:

  • €35 tickets for under-28s, unemployed people (with documentary proof less than 3 months old) and senior citizens over 65 with non-taxable income (proof of tax exemption for the current year required)
  • €70 tickets for senior citizens over 65

Get samples of the operas and ballets at the Paris Opera gift shops: programmes, books, recordings, and also stationery, jewellery, shirts, homeware and honey from Paris Opera.

Opéra Bastille
  • Open 1h before performances and until performances end
  • Get in from within the theatre’s public areas
  • For more information: +33 1 40 01 17 82

Opéra Bastille

Place de la Bastille

75012 Paris

Public transport

Underground Bastille (lignes 1, 5 et 8), Gare de Lyon (RER)

Bus 29, 69, 76, 86, 87, 91, N01, N02, N11, N16

Calculate my route
Car park

Q-Park Opéra Bastille 34, rue de Lyon 75012 Paris

Book your parking spot
super alt text
super alt text
super alt text
super alt text

Imagined as benchmark, richly illustrated booklets, the programmes can be bought online, at the box offices, in our shops, and in the theatres hall on the evening of the performance.      

BUY THE PROGRAM
  • Cloakrooms

    Free cloakrooms are at your disposal. The comprehensive list of prohibited items is available here.

  • Bars

    Reservation of drinks and light refreshments for the intervals is possible online up to 24 hours prior to your visit, or at the bars before each performance.

  • Parking

    You can park your car at the Q-Park Opéra Bastille. It is located at 34 rue de Lyon, 75012 Paris. 

    BOOK YOUR PARKING PLACE.

In both our venues, discounted tickets are sold at the box offices from 30 minutes before the show:

  • €35 tickets for under-28s, unemployed people (with documentary proof less than 3 months old) and senior citizens over 65 with non-taxable income (proof of tax exemption for the current year required)
  • €70 tickets for senior citizens over 65

Get samples of the operas and ballets at the Paris Opera gift shops: programmes, books, recordings, and also stationery, jewellery, shirts, homeware and honey from Paris Opera.

Opéra Bastille
  • Open 1h before performances and until performances end
  • Get in from within the theatre’s public areas
  • For more information: +33 1 40 01 17 82

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