• Don Carlo Educator Guide

What to Expect from Don Carlo

In the most powerful nation on earth, one ruler’s unhappy love might determine the fate of thousands. That’s the politically explosive reality of Don Carlo, Giuseppe Verdi’s most ambitious opera. The composer takes the audience behind palace walls in 16th-century Spain, into a world of jealousy, betrayal, desire, and principle, where civic duty and public image clash with honest emotion and where no one can be trusted.

Nicholas Hytner’s new Met production won critical and popular acclaim when it was first seen at London’s Royal Opera House in 2008. The director has described Don Carlo as “a ferociously pessimistic drama.” But, he adds, “what makes it so attractive is that almost every individual in it fights, with every fiber of their being, against the opposition. Nobody gives in. Not one of these characters is prepared to accept his or her own tragic destiny. They fight. They scream. They holler. They deny what their inevitable end will be.”

  • Classroom Activity

    A full-length activity, designed to support your ongoing curriculum.
  • Musical Highlights

    Three "Musical Highlights" designed to focus on bits of music from Don Carlo to cultivate familiarity with the work.
  • Performance Activities

    Performance Activities for students to enjoy during the Metropolitan Opera HD transmission.
  • Post-Show Discussion

    A post-transmission activity, integrating the Live in HD experience into students' wider views of the performing arts and humanities.

Don Carlo at the Met

In the Met’s Live in HD presentation, this cast of complex characters is portrayed by an international lineup of great singing actors, led by tenor Roberto Alagna in the title role. Soprano Marina Poplavskaya as Elisabeth, baritone Simon Keenlyside as Rodrigo, and bass Ferruccio Furlanetto as King Philip all reprise their acclaimed performances from the London run. They are joined by Anna Smirnova as Princess Eboli and Eric Halfvarson in the short but crucial role of the Grand Inquisitor. Young Canadian maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who led last season’s new production of Carmen, is back on the podium.

Throughout the story of Don Carlo, students will find familiar themes—the loss of a love, the conflict between duty and desire, the bonds of friendship, and the grim truth of its limits. This guide will help them explore correspondences between their own lives and those that will unfold before them on the Metropolitan Opera stage. The activities can heighten their appreciation of Don Carlo’s historical context, its psychological complexity, the splendor of its music, and the artistry of the Met’s Live in HD presentation.