Don Carlos is a five-act Grand Opera by the Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi with a libretto written in French by Camille du Locle and Joseph Mery, based on the dramatic play Don Carlos, Infant von Spanien ("Don Carlos, Infante of Spain") by Friedrich Schiller.
Scene I. The Cloisters of the Monastery of San
A friar is praying at the tomb of Carlos V, Don Carlosī
grandfather. Carlos is in despair because his father has married Elisabeth, to
whom he was once betrothed. The Friarīs voice reminds him of his dead
grandfather. Carlosī great friend Rodrigo, the Marquis of Posa, enters. Carlos
confides to Posa that he and Elisabeth are still in love. Rodrigo advises him to
forget Elisabeth and take up the cause of the Netherlands, oppressed under his
fatherīs rule. Carlos agrees and, after they have watched Philip II and
Elisabeth pray at the tomb, they swear undying friendship.
Scene II. A garden outside the cloisters.
Queenīs ladies are assembled for her return and Princess Eboli entertains them
with The Song of the Veil. The Queen returns with Rodrigo. Under cover, he
manages to pass her a private note form Carlos, who wishes to see her. She
hesitates but, encouraged by Rodrigo, consents to the meeting. She sends her
ladies away and Carlos enters. She agrees to persuade Philip to send Carlos to
the Netherlands as governor, but cites her duty when accused of indifference to
his love. He becomes impassioned and, when she resists him, rushes off. Philip
enters, furious to find Elisabeth unattended. He exiles the Countess dīAremberg
for negligence and the court departs. Philip draws Rodrigo back and asks him for
frank advice. Rodrigo speaks for the Netherlands, but Philip warns him of the
Grand Inquisitor. Philip confides his suspicions of Carlos and his wife, and
asks Rodrigo to watch them. Encouraged that the Kingīs confidence may bring
influence, Rodrigo agrees.
Scene I. The Queenīs Garden.
Carlos re-reads an
anonymous letter perhaps from Elisabeth asking him for an
assignation. A veiled woman appears and he embraces her, declaring his love. But
when she removes her veil he finds not Elisabeth, but Eboli. His confusion
persuades Eboli that it is Elisabeth he loves. Rodrigo arrives and tries to
divert her. But Eboli loves Carlos herself and decides to reveal the truth to
the King. Carlos threatens her and they quarrel furiously. She leaves, bent on
vengeance. Rodrigo wants Carlos to give him any incriminating documents he may
have. Carlos is doubtful because of Rodrigoīs newfound favour with the King, but
warily gives him a cache of letters.
Scene II. The Square outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of
A crowd has assembled to watch an auto-da-fe. Elisabeth and
Rodrigo arrive in procession and Philip makes a grand appearance from inside the
cathedral. Carlos leads a deputation requesting leniency in the Netherlands, and
Philip orders them to be removed. The royal party joins in the plea, but the
monks oppose it. Philip rejects Carlos as governor of the Netherlands and Carlos
draws his sword. The King defends himself and Rodrigo, to protect his friend,
demands that he surrender his sword. Astonished, Carlos does so, and is led off
under guard. Flames rise from the stake and a heavenly voice welcomes the souls
of the burning "heretics".
Scene I. The Kingīs study.
Philip reflects on his
loveless marriage and feels that he will die alone. The Grand Inquisitor arrives
and Philip asks him how to deal with his sonīs rebellion. The Inquisitor insists
on Carlosī death, and then demands that the Inquisition interrogate Rodrigo.
When he has gone, Elisabeth rushes in, believing her jewel casket stolen, but
Philip has it. He forces it open to find Carlosī portrait and accuses Elisabeth
of adultery. She swoons. Philip calls out and Eboli enters with Rodrigo. As the
Queen recovers, they both voice their emotional conflict. Eboli is then left
with the Queen and confesses that she gave Philip the casket and that she has
also been his mistress. Stunned, Elisabeth orders Eboli to choose between exile
and the convent. The Queen leaves and Eboli bitterly regrets the curse of beauty
that has been her downfall. She chooses the convent, but first vows to save
Scene II. A prison cell.
Carlos is visited by
Rodrigo, who has come to sacrifice his own life for his friendīs. There is
little time because he has arranged for the letters to be found on his own
person. An Inquisition officer steals into the cell and shoots Rodrigo. Before
he dies, Rodrigo tells Carlos that the Queen will be waiting for him at San
Juste the next day. The King enters, but when he attempts to embrace his son,
Carlos pushes him away. A crowd storms the prison and demands Carlosī release.
In the confusion, Eboli begs Carlos to leave and the Grand Inquisitor arrives to
quell the mob.
The Cloisters of the Monastery of San Juste.
Elisabeth enters to
pray at Carlos Vīs tomb. Don Carlos arrives, telling her that the Netherlands,
not their past love, now call him. They bid farewell, but Philip enters with the
Grand Inquisitor and his officers, and orders both their arrests. Carlos
retreats toward his grandfatherīs tomb and the friar, whom he had earlier heard
prying, suddenly appears dressed in the royal robes and regalia of Carlos V. He
draws Don Carlos into the cloister as the others watch in awe.
Schedule for Giuseppe Verdi "Don Carlos" (opera in four acts) 2017