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Don Carlos (German Edition) de Schiller
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Don Carlos (German Edition) (1787)

de Schiller (Autor)

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Schiller's great tragedy transformed by Mike Poulton into an intense and gripping historical thriller that was a huge hit in the West End starring Derek Jacobi. Don Carlos is passionately in love with Elizabeth, a French princess. Carlos' tyrannical father, King Philip II, decides to marry Elizabeth himself. The young prince's hatred of his father knows no bounds. He enlists his friend, the Marquis of Posa, to act as go-between, but Posa decides to convert Carlos and Elizabeth's passion into a full-scale rebellion against Philip's oppressive regime. Mike Poulton's version of Friedrich Schiller's play Don Carlos was first staged at the Crucible, Sheffield, in October 2004. It transferred to the Gielgud Theatre in the West End in February 2005.… (més)
Títol:Don Carlos (German Edition)
Autors:Schiller (Autor)
Informació:Philipp Reclam Jun Verlag GmbH
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Don Carlos de Friedrich Schiller (Author) (1787)

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In January 1568, Philip II arrested his 23 year old son, Carlos, confining him to his palace rooms under guard. Six months later, Carlos was dead. The perfect set-up for a dark romantic scandal, but in the boring real world the Infante's short life seems to have been merely sad, unpleasant and far from romantic.

Whether it was due to an excess of inbred Hapsburg DNA, brain damage resulting from a difficult birth, teenage malaria and/or a head injury from a fall in 1562, Carlos displayed increasingly violent and unpredictable behaviour as he grew up. It is probably reasonable to assume that he was seriously mentally ill and his confinement was a medical necessity, his death probably from natural causes. Modern historians generally see no need to suspect any dirty work by the king in this case.


However, there were plenty of people who scented a propaganda opportunity here. A pamphlet circulated by William of Orange seems to have been the starting point for the legend that Carlos was murdered because he was in love with his young stepmother, Elisabeth of Valois, and involved with her in a conspiracy to seize power in Flanders in support of the Protestant rebels there. That was taken up in a novel by the Abbé de Saint-Réal in the 1670s, which in turn gave Schiller the outline for his first big verse tragedy, written between 1783 and 1787 and first performed in Hamburg.

Besides Carlos, Philip and Elisabeth, Schiller gives big parts to the Princess of Eboli, one of the Queen's ladies, and to the Marquis of Posa, a childhood friend of Carlos who is a passionate supporter of the cause of the Flemish rebels. There's also quite an important sub-plot involving the Duke of Alba and the king's confessor, Domingo, and lots of other minor parts for Spanish grandees and ladies (including, twenty years too early, the Duke of Medina Sidonia coming on to report the defeat of the Armada...!). But the best walk-on part is that of the Grand Inquisitor, who comes on about five minutes before the end of Act Five and completely steals the show.

The plot is ridiculously tangled, with everyone changing sides (or appearing to) at least twice in the course of the play, and there are about a dozen different compromising documents that have to fall into the wrong hands at significant moments. But there are lots of fine speeches as characters debate love versus duty, liberty versus order and stability, and so on.

The passion between Carlos and Elisabeth is oddly abstract — she never really commits herself, whilst he is obsessed with her without apparently ever having had the chance to talk to her. Both the Princess and Posa are obviously in love with Carlos in a very real, physical way (we're meant to read Posa's declarations of love as just the flowery language of homosocial bonding, but of course we know better...): Carlos seems to respond to both of them warmly while they are in the room, then forgets them at once and goes back to ranting about his passion for the Queen. Schiller plants the idea that he's looking for a mother-substitute (one of his first lines in Act I reminds us that his "first action on coming into the world was matricide"), but given that he's the same age as Elisabeth, it's hard to imagine how he could really see her as a mother. ( )
  thorold | Aug 31, 2020 |
Friedrich Schiller

Don Karlos
Infant von Spanien

Reclam, Paperback, 2009.

16mo. 220 pp.

First produced and published, 1787.
Schillers Werke, Nationalausgabe, 1974.
Reclam edition, 2001 (revised spelling).


Don Karlos: Infant von Spanien
Ein dramatisches Gedicht
1. Akt, 1-9. Auftritt
2. Akt, 1-15. Auftritt
3. Akt, 1-10. Auftritt
4. Akt, 1-24. Auftritt
5. Akt, 1-10. Auftritt
5. Akt, Letzter Auftritt

Editorische Notiz



PHILIPP der Zweite, König von Spanien
ELISABETH von Valois, seine Gemahlin
Don KARLOS, der Kronprinz
Alexander FARNESE, Prinz von Parma, Neffe des Königs
Infantin KLARA EUGENIA, ein Kind von drei Jahren
Herzogin von OLIVAREZ, Oberhofmeisterin

Damen der Königin:
Marquisin von MONDEKAR
Prinzessin von EBOLI

Granden von Spanien:
Marquis von POSA, ein Malteserritter
Herzog von ALBA
Graf von LERMA, Oberster der Leibwache
Herzog von FERIA, Ritter des Vlieses
Herzog von MEDINA SIDONIA, Admiral
Don Raymond von TAXIS, Oberpostmeister

DOMINGO, Beichtvater des Königs
Der GROSSINQUISITOR des Königreichs
Der PRIOR eines Kartäuserklosters
Ein PAGE der Königin
Don Ludwig MERKADO, Leibarzt der Königin

MEHRERE DAMEN und Granden, Pagen, Offiziere, die Leibwache, und verschiedene stumme Personen


Warning: this is an operatic review!

My interest in this play is purely Verdian. Had it not become the source of Don Carlo, I would not have read it. More specifically, I was inspired to read it by one eminent Verdian writer:

Don Carlos, though it takes place in the late sixteenth-century Spain, and though it purports to deal with Marquis Posa’s attempts to save Flanders from the despotic misrule of his sovereign, Philip II, is really a play of abstract ideas, a play about determinism and free will, and the dialogue, still current in Schiller’s age and by no means irrelevant today, between the liberal attitude and the obscurantist religious mind. A sub-theme running through the play, the sacrificing of romantic love to larger concerns, fits awkwardly into the action. Don Carlos could exist without Carlos and Elisabetta, but not without Philip and Posa. In its compression into operatic libretto, Schiller’s lengthy play has undoubtedly suffered. What his librettists were forced to omit, Verdi was able to restore in music; but, where they actually altered or invented, it was usually for the worse.[1]

I am in tentative (dis)agreement with this. The point about the existence of the play without Don Carlos and Elisabeth is especially perceptive. It is absolutely true of the opera as well.

Just about the only things the authors of the libretto did invent were the opening act in France (of the 5-act version), the auto-da-fé scene and the arias of Princess Eboli (“The Veil Song” and “O don fatale... O mia Regina”). The first of these is dramatically silly even by operatic standards (“I am Carlos... and I love you!”) and musically hardly Verdi at his best. Don Carlo and Elisabetta have two love duets later, both of them superior musically and dramatically. I am of the controversial opinion that Verdi was wise later to discard this “Fontainebleau act” and produce the more compact 4-act version. He did salvage Don Carlo’s aria, but nothing else.

Everything else in the libretto, however, comes from Schiller, sometimes almost by way of literal translation. The chilling final lines of the play – “Kardinal! ich habe / Das Meinige getan. Tut Sie das Ihre.” – as the King delivers his own son to the Inquisition become “Il dover mio farò. Ma voi?” in the opera as the King addresses the Grand Inquisitor. If only the opera had ended there! Unfortunately, it continues for a few minutes more and a ridiculous supernatural twist in which the ghost of Charles V kidnaps Don Carlo. It remains obscure whether he is saved or damned in the process. Indeed, it remains obscure whether the kidnapper is a real ghost or some monk playing a practical joke. As Mr Osborne has argued[2], the opera can be made to end like the play with minimum of violence to the text and the music.

The only difference between the play and the libretto – but it’s a difference that makes all the difference! – is the length. Schiller’s prolixity is truly exhausting. 5 acts, 69 scenes (!) and 5370 lines of blank verse are just a little too much. Those characters simply cannot stop talking! They can’t stop weaving intrigues, either. The plot is hugely complicated, often confused, and sometimes ridiculous. The melodrama is massive, often absurd, and sometimes atrocious. If you think the operatic Don Carlo is a pathetic sob sister, wait until you meet this one! The abstract ideas mentioned by Mr Osborne are there, somewhere, but it’s almost impossible to find them in this huge pile of rhetorical excess.

There is a truly great play lurking in the source material. If only Shakespeare had written it! It would have been terribly unpatriotic of him, but what a terrific piece of theatre he would have produced! Alas, Schiller was no Shakespeare. He had no idea of dramatic concision and his characters hardly make sense even by the tolerant standards of verse drama and human irrationality.

The libretto is a masterpiece of compression and arrangement. If it doesn’t have any great poetic distinction, neither does it seem to go on forever as so many of Schiller’s scenes do. Verdi’s music adds, of course, a powerful new dimension that no words can supply. But my concern here is only with the words. Looking at them, the play is really a different animal.

Consider a few random differences. Eboli’s intrigues are weaved together with Domingo and Alba – both completely omitted from the libretto. The first meeting between Carlo and Posa (I.2) and the tremendous scene between Philip and Posa (III.10) are vastly abridged and greatly improved in the opera: no childhood reminiscences between the friends; no need for the Marquis to subject the poor King to a sort of pious psychotherapy. Don Carlo wants Flanders from his father in private (II.2), not in public, and what their mutual animosity is based on remains unclear. Philip thinks his son’s a sissy, the wrong material for a future king, that’s clear enough. But why Carlo hates his father, even though he says he doesn’t (305-6), I was left at sea. The romance between Carlo and the Queen (I.5) is much less prominent and very one-sided here. He is far gone, but she is not. She is again set up by the jealous Eboli, but she is not even remotely in love with her son (well, stepson). And so on, and so forth.

Sometimes the libretto really amounts to an original work. Take for another example my favourite first scene of the third act (fourth in the 5-act version), that glorious succession of Philip’s soliloquy, his confrontations with the Grand Inquisitor and Elisabetta, and the final quartet followed by Eboli’s confession and repentance. You can hardly find all this in the play, even if you are willing to sift through no fewer four scenes in three acts and I have no idea how many lines. Let’s have a closer look.

Philip’s famous soliloquy in the opera – easily on par with Shakespeare’s greatest soliloquies if you count the music – is based on just a few lines from III.1 and III.5 in the play. It is virtually an original work. The mundane passage about the King’s realising it’s almost dawn is the only more or less translated part. The very first lines are almost opposites. “Ella giammai m’amò!”, says Philip in the opera: “She never loved me.” Philip in the play has quite a different problem. “Nie konnt ich ihr Liebe geben” (2474), he says: “I could never love her.” The lines in which Philip wishes the crown could give him the power to read the human heart that only God has (“Se il serto regal a me desse il poter / Di leggere nei cor, che Dio sol può veder!”) are unique to the libretto. The closest Schiller comes to them is this rather trite passage (2809-14):

Jetz gib mir einen Menschen, gute Vorsicht –
Du hast mir viel gegeben. Schenke mir
Jetzt einen Menschen. Du – du bist allein,
Denn deine Augen prüfen das Verborgne,
Ich bitte dich um einen Freund, denn ich
Bin nicht wie du allwissend.

The scene with Elisabeth (IV.9) presents the Queen as a strong character who confronts the King. It’s a pity this is lost in the opera. Then again, Philip and Elisabeth are different characters there. It is one of the finest scenes in the play, intensely dramatic and, miraculously, not too long. But it’s a pale shadow of the incandescent clash on the opera stage. Here the Queen doesn’t faint on her way out, but because the King threatens to strike her (well, that depends on the actor and the director). “Das Mitleid einer Buhlerin” (3793) is the tepid original of “la pieta d’adultera consorte”.

The stupendous scene with the Grand Inquisitor, one of the highlights of Don Carlo, Verdi and all Italian opera, is firmly based on V.10. Notable difference is that in the play the scene happens after Posa’s death. He is mentioned of course, but not much drama can be mustered for a dead man. The Inquisitor demanding the rebel and the King refusing with a furious “No, giammai” can be found only in the opera (Boris Christoff accompanied this moment on the stage with a massive fist crashing on the King’s table). Again, the libretto captures the essence without the prolixity. For example (5267-75):

Kannst du mir einen neuen Glauben gründen,
Der eines Kindes blut’gen Mord verteidigt?

Die ewige Gerechtigkeit zu sühnen,
Starb an dem Holze Gottes Sohn.

Du willst
Durch ganz Europa diese Meinung pflanzen?

So weit, als Man das Kreuz verehrt.
Ich frevle
An der Natur – auch diese mächt’ge Stimme?
Willst du zum Schweigen bringen?

Vor dem Glauben
Gilt keine Stimme der Natur.

Ich lege
Mein Richteramt in deine Hände – Kann
Ich ganz zurücke treten?

Geben Sie
Ihn mir.

Es ist mein einz’ger Sohn – Wem hab ich

Der Verwesung lieber, als
Der Freiheit.

Wir sind einig. Kommt.
Aus meiner Hand das Opfer zu empfangen.

Se il figlio a morte invio,
M’assolve la tua mano?

La pace dell’impero i dì val d’un ribelle.
Posso il figlio immolar al mondo,
Io cristian?

Per riscattarci Iddio il suo sacrificò.
Ma tu puoi dar vigor a legge sì severa?
Ovunque avrà vigor,
Se sul Calvario l’ebbe.

La natura e l’amor tacer potranno in me?
Tutto tacer dovrà per esaltar la fé.
Sta ben.

Philip’s final outburst about the Crown’s eternal submission to the Church – “Dunque il trono piegar dovrà sempre all’altare!” – is not in the play. It was a brilliant addition of the librettists. Verdi improved on it with a “remarkable phrase spanning two octaves from F to F”[3].

The great quartet (“Ah! sii maledetto, sospetto fatale”) that follows the scene with Elisabeth in the opera is one of Verdi’s masterpieces and has no analogue in the play at all, including Posa’s boldly asking the King whether he is the only person in his half-world empire who cannot be held under control (“Sire, soggetta è a voi la metà della terra; sareste dunque in tanto vasto imper il sol, cui no v’è dato il comandar?”). As for Eboli’s confession and repentance which close Act 3(4), Scene 1, the former comes from the play (IV.19) but the latter is completely original. Verdi’s Eboli is a quasi-tragic character. Schiller’s Eboli is not.

In short, I could hardly recognise the opera’s plot in the play. I couldn’t recognise the characters at all.

The characters in the opera are simplified, of course. But they are not simple, and the music makes up in vividness what they lack in complexity. Philip, one of the great tragic figures in opera, the king unloved by his wife, opposed by his son, forced into submission by the Church; Posa, Don Carlo’s friend and the King’s confidante, political idealist and “strange dreamer” (the King’s euphemism for “liberal”); Eboli, a woman cursed by beauty, often seduced, never loved, embittered and vengeful; Elisabeth, homesick for France, divided between love for the son and duty towards the father; Don Carlo, the title and least interesting character of all, an ardent lover, an insipid revolutionary. I much prefer these people to Schiller’s, if not on paper, certainly on record.

Schiller’s characters may be “superbly realised”, as Mr Osborne claims[4], but I have found them hard to find. They are buried under tons of rhetorical effusions. Strip away all this and there isn’t much left. The same goes for the “strong dramatic situations”. So powerful in the opera, so diluted in the play! Nothing kills drama better than verbosity.

For my part, Verdi and his librettists finished what Schiller merely started. Time seems to have agreed with that verdict. Don Karlos is seldom read and hardly ever staged today, even in the German-speaking world[5]. Don Carlo is a different matter. After a slow start until the middle of the last century, it has become part of the standard operatic repertoire all over the world.

[1] Charles Osborne, The Complete Operas of Verdi [1969], Gollancz, 1988, p. 353.
[2] Ibid., p. 367. The same page contains a brief description of the version Norman Tucker prepared for Sadler’s Wells in 1951. He did revert to Schiller’s ending, but he also abridged and rearranged the opera in a truly preposterous way. Among his most brilliant ideas were to transfer the clash with the Grand Inquisitor to the Prison Scene, to devise a new scene for Carlo and his Flemish deputies in which Elisabetta’s “Giustizia” is included as a plea to Carlo, and to omit the “Veil Song” and Rodrigo’s “Per me giunto il di supremo”. Mr Osborne didn’t attend this production and relied on an article in Opera (January 1951) for its description. He thinks the article’s last sentence is worth quoting and so do I: “Most of all, perhaps, criticism will be levelled at Mr Tucker for omitting the famous auto-da-fe scene, but it should be borne in mind that a scene obviously written as a vehicle for the pageantry and splendour of nineteenth-century Paris is not very suitable for twentieth-century Islington, and it is specifically for Sadler’s Wells that this new version had been made.” One must admire the taste of 20th-century Islington.
[3] Ibid., p. 365.
[4] Ibid., p. 354.
[5] Ironically, a new production has just opened at the Burgtheater in Vienna. I wonder if it is uncut and how long it’s going to last. Only four performances are scheduled for November. Judging by a few photos, the production is aggressively avant-garde. The duration is said to be about 255 minutes. I think I’ll pass. ( )
2 vota Waldstein | Nov 1, 2019 |
  kutheatre | Jun 7, 2015 |
Students often get bored with the plays of Schiller and Goethe. The subject may change its colour, appreciating it in a authentic location. For example, « Don Carlos in Aranjuez », « Torquato Tasso » in Rome.
  hbergander | Dec 16, 2011 |
ZUR ENTSTEHUNGSGESCHICHTE VON SCHILLERS "DON CARLOS" Der Intendant des Mannheimer Nationaltheaters, Freiherr von Dalberg, machte Schiller im Mai 1782 auf den Stoff des Don Carlos aufmerksam. Er sandte ihm die Erzählung des Abbé Saint-Réal (1639-92) Dom Carlos, nouvelle historique und bat ihn zu prüfen, ob sich dieser Gegenstand für eine Bühnenbearbeitung eigne. Nach seiner Übersiedlung auf das Gut der Frau von Wolzogen in Bauerbach 1782 besorgt sich Schiller aus der Meininger Bibliothek dieses Werk des Abbé Saint-Real und andere Literatur und schreibt am 3.April 1783 an Freiherrn von Dalberg, daß er am Dom Karlos arbeite. Von 1784 an veröffentlicht der inzwischen nach Mannheim zurückgekehrte Dichter die einzelnen fertiggestellten Teile des Werkes in seiner Zeitschrift Rheinische Thalia. Zunächst hatte Schiller nur die Absicht, ein "Familiengemälde aus einem königlichen Hause" zu schaffen, aber seine innere Anteilnahme war für eine so küble Behandlung des Stoffes zu stark. Er schreibt damals an den Meininger Bibliothekar Reinwald, Dom Karlos solle von Shakespeares Hamlet die Seele, Blut und Nerven von Leisewitz und den Puls von ihm selbst erhalten. So weitete sich der Stoff während der Arbeit, und aus einem bloßen Familiengemälde wurde die Tragödie der um ihre Gewissensfreiheit ringenden Menschheit.
Quelle: ( )
  hbwiesbaden | Jan 25, 2011 |
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Schiller, FriedrichAutorautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
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Schiller's great tragedy transformed by Mike Poulton into an intense and gripping historical thriller that was a huge hit in the West End starring Derek Jacobi. Don Carlos is passionately in love with Elizabeth, a French princess. Carlos' tyrannical father, King Philip II, decides to marry Elizabeth himself. The young prince's hatred of his father knows no bounds. He enlists his friend, the Marquis of Posa, to act as go-between, but Posa decides to convert Carlos and Elizabeth's passion into a full-scale rebellion against Philip's oppressive regime. Mike Poulton's version of Friedrich Schiller's play Don Carlos was first staged at the Crucible, Sheffield, in October 2004. It transferred to the Gielgud Theatre in the West End in February 2005.

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