Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Modernity vanquished? Verdi Un ballo in maschera, Royal Opera House, London

Verdi Un ballo in maschera at the Royal Opera House - a masked ball in every sense, where nothing is quite what it seems. On the surface, this new production appears quaint and undemanding. It uses painted flats, for example, pulled back and forth across, as in toy theatre. The scenes painted on them are vaguely generic, depicting neither Boston nor Stockholm, where the tale supposedly takes place. Instead, we focus on Verdi, and on theatre practices of the past. In other words, opera as the art of illusion, not an attempt to replicate reality. Take this production too literally and you'll miss the wit and intelligence behind it.

La Traviata in Ljubljana Slovenia

Small country, small opera house — big ensemble spirit. Internationally acclaimed soprano Natalia Ushakova steps in for indisposed local Violetta with mixed results.

Otello in Bucharest — Moor’s the pity

Bulgarian director Vera Nemirova’s production of Otello for the Romanian National Opera in Bucharest was certainly full of new ideas — unfortunately all bad.

Il trovatore at Lyric Opera of Chicago

For its current revival of the 2006-2007 production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Il trovatore by Sir David McVicar Lyric Opera has assembled a talented quintet of principal singers whose strengths match this conception of the opera.

Schubert’s Winterreise by Matthias Goerne

This Winterreise is the final instalment of Matthias Goerne’s series of Schubert lieder for Harmonia Mundi and it brings the Matthias Goerne Schubert Edition, begun in 2008, to a dark, harrowing close.

Mary, Queen of Heaven, Wigmore Hall

O Maria Deo grata — ‘O Mary, pleasing to God’: so begins Robert Fayrfax’s antiphon, one of several supplications to the Virgin Mary presented in this thought-provoking concert by The Cardinall’s Musick at the Wigmore Hall.

Analyzed not demonized — Tristan und Isolde, Royal Opera House

Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at the Royal Opera House, first revival of the 2009 production, one of the first to attract widespread hostility even before the curtain rose on the first night.

Florencia in el Amazonas Makes Triumphant Return to LA

On November 22, 2014, Los Angeles Opera staged Francesca Zambello’s updated version of Florencia in el Amazonas.

John Adams: The Gospel According to the Other Mary

John Adams and his long-standing collaborator Peter Sellars have described The Gospel According to the Other Mary as a ‘Passion oratorio’.

A new Yevgeny Onegin in Zagreb — Prince Gremin’s Fabulous Pool Party

Superb conducting from veteran Croatian maestro Nikša Bareza makes up for an absurd waterlogged new production of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece.

Nabucco in Novi Sad

After the horrors of Jagoš Marković’s production of Le Nozze di Figaro in Belgrade, I was apprehensive lest Nabucco in Serbia’s second city of Novi Sad on 27th October would be transplanted from 6th century BC Babylon to post-Saddam Hussein Tikrit or some bombed-out kibbutz in Beersheba.

La Bohème in San Francisco

First Toronto, then Houston and now San Francisco, the third stop of a new production of Puccini's La bohème by Canadian born, British nurtured theater director John Caird.

Radvanovsky Sings Recital in Los Angeles

Every once in a while Los Angeles Opera presents an important recital in the three thousand seat Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

L’elisir d’amore, Royal Opera

This third revival of Laurent Pelly’s production of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore needed a bit of a pep up to get moving but once it had been given a shot of ‘medicinal’ tincture things spiced up nicely.

Samling Showcase, Wigmore Hall

Founded in 1996, Samling describes itself as a charity which ‘inspires musical excellence in young people’.

La cenerentola in San Francisco

The good news is that you don’t have to go all the way to Pesaro for great Rossini.

Rameau: Maître à danser — William Christie, Barbican London

Maître à danser: William Christie and Les Arts Florissants at the Barbican, London, presented a defining moment in Rameau performance practice, choreographed with a team of dancers.

Le Nozze di Figaro — or Sex on the Beach?

The most memorable thing (and definitely not in a good way) about this performance of Le Nozze di Figaro at the Serbian National Theatre in Belgrade was the self-serving, infantile, offensive and just plain wrong production by celebrated Serbian theatre director Jagoš Marković.

The Met mounts a well sung but dramatically unconvincing ‘Carmen’

Should looks matter when casting the role of the iconic temptress for HD simulcast?

Maurice Greene’s Jephtha

Maurice Greene (1696-1755) had a highly successful musical career. Organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral, a position to which he was elected when he was just 22 years-old, he later became organist of the Chapel Royal, Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge and, from 1735, Master of the King’s Music.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Giuseppe Verdi: Macbeth
30 Aug 2009

Verdi's Macbeth at the Sferisterio Opera Festival

The opera venue at Macerata shares some features with its famous counterpart in Verona: both are outdoors, with huge stages that can accommodate spectacular productions.

Giuseppe Verdi: Macbeth

Macbeth: Giuseppe Altomare; Lady Macbeth: Olha Zhuravel; Banco: Pavel Kudinov; Macduff: Rubens Pelizzari; Malcolm: Marco Voleri; Il medico: Luca Dall'Amico; Un domestico di Macbeth / I apparizione: William Corrò; Il sicario: Andrea Pistolesi; II e III apparizione: Velia Moretti de Angelis, Valeria Cazacu; Ecate: Anbeta Toromani; Fleanzio: Dario Vinciguerra. Coro Lirico Marchigiano 'V. Bellini'. FORM - Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana. Daniele Callegari, conductor. Pier Luigi Pizzi, stage director, set and costume designer. Filmed at the Sferisterio Opera Festival, Macerata, Italy, 2-5 August 2007.

Naxos 2.110258 [DVD]

$26.99  Click to buy

The stage at Macerata, however, is narrow and long, rather like that used at the Salzburg Festival. For his Macbeth, director and designer Pier Luigi Pizzi makes the most of this configuration. Two long, intersecting black ramps bisect the stage, each covered in red cloth. A large pedestal made of stairs sits off to one side; the thrones of Macbeth and his lady, in garish red, will sit atop that pedestal. All the costumes are in black, gunmetal, or red, usually in shiny fabrics. Verdi’s music for Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy explores the shifting psychological landscape of its twisted anti-heroes, and Pizzi’s dramatic color scheme and athletic use of movement makes this a most exciting staging.

None of the singers’ names may be familiar to U.S. audiences, and none may ever be so. They have all been cast well, however, and make potent contributiions to Pizzi’s success. Giuseppe Altomare sings Macbeth with a rough-edged baritone, but that element of forced bluster plays well for the character. Verdi and librettist Piave did not include the lines about Macbeth seeming too small a man for his royal robes, but Pizzi does have Altomare in a long jacket with train that seems to swallow him up in the last act. The biographical note in the booklet relates that soprano Olha Zhuravel has been singing a lot of Turandots, and has taken on Nabucco’s Abigaille. The voice would be what that suggests - sizable, but not beautiful, with more thrust than elegance. Her ghoulish makeup is a rare misstep for Pizzi’s production; it makes a performance that threatens to be unvaried vocally even less subtle. Zhuravel is strong, it should be said, all the way to her climatic scene, which lacks that touch of pathos the role’s greatest interpreters managed to produce. Rubens Pelizarri in the tenor role of Macduff blasts through his aria without tenderness or sensitivity.

Gheorghe Iancu’s choreography dominates the opening and, quite naturally, the extended ballet. Too much stomping and stamping mars the music in act one. The ballet comes off quite well, though. In its most striking image, the female lead dancer is lifted up and then one by one kicks down a row of soldier/dancers lined up on the ramp.

The Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana responds well to the energetic leadership of Daniele Callegari, although the horns don’t always agree on pitch. Fans of this opera definitely should give this Naxos set a chance. The better-known CD recordings all feature more impressive singing, but the visual power of Pizzi’s work here makes for a very strong Macbeth.

Chris Mullins

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):