One of the pleasures of the Met Live in HD is the mid-production interviews with the cast. During the live transmission of Don Carlo, Deborah Voigt interviewed Marina Poplavskaya.
Voigt began with a simple question. Why has drawn Poplavskaya to Verdi heroines?
"[He] is so Russian," she replied immediately. One can imagine the ripples of amused laughter that echoed in theaters everywhere as it did in the one in which I sat.
"Because you see the Russian composers and poets always went to Italy...We love each other; these countries." One thinks of Glinka who travelled there for several years in the early 1830s. Poplavskaya always gets the last laugh.
"I think the greatest acting challenge [in Don Carlo] is to stay calm. Verdi put in so many colors and every color is right so you have to choose right on the spot. [...] I find most of the feelings in my heart. But I must say it is not very pleasant to dig in my own trash [laughs]."
"I see [Elizabeth] as a woman. Like all Verdi heroine [she] is vulnerable, strong, and a great human being. I learn so much from Verdi's roles"
In the dramatic centerpiece of her role as Elizabeth, the fifth act aria "Tu che le vanità," Poplavskaya taught us about Verdi's colors. She taught us about endurance and grace.
"Se ancor si piange in cielo, (if there is still pity in heaven)"
She sang this central stanza quietly in F-sharp major with the high G-sharps in each line dolcissimo, as marked, and with unbroken legato line. Her sound floated.
"piangi sul mio dolore, (mourn over my sorrow)
e porta il pianto mio (and carry my tears.)"
Poplavskaya was especially gentle in these lines and connected the three note melisma on the word "porta" using portamento.
She succeeded in "staying calm." The rest of is did not. We burst into applause. Brava.