[Met Performance] CID:352126
New Production
Macbeth {81} Metropolitan Opera House: 10/22/2007., Sirius Broadcast live
Streamed at metopera.org

(Debuts: Adrian Noble, Sue Lefton, David Crawford, Raymond Renault, Adam Hauser Piñero, Joseph Turi
Broadcast/Streamed
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
October 22, 2007 Broadcast/Streamed

New Production

MACBETH {81}
Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave/Andrea Maffei

Macbeth.................Zeljko Lucic
Lady Macbeth............Maria Guleghina
Banquo..................John Relyea
Macduff.................Dimitri Pittas
Malcolm.................Russell Thomas
Lady-in-Attendance......Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs
Physician...............James Courtney
Manservant..............Richard Hobson
Duncan..................Raymond Renault [Debut]
Fleance.................Adam Hauser Piñero [Debut]
Murderer................Keith Miller
Herald..................Joseph Turi [Debut]
Warrior.................David Crawford [Debut]
Bloody Child............Ashley Emerson
Crowned Child...........Anne-Carolyn Bird

Conductor...............James Levine

Production..............Adrian Noble [Debut]
Designer................Mark Thompson
Lighting designer.......Jean Kalman
Choreographer...........Sue Lefton [Debut]

Production gift of Mr. and Mrs. Paul M. Montrone

Additional funding provided by Mr. and Mrs. William R. Miller, Hermione Foundation
and The Gilbert S. Kahn and John J. Noffo Kahn Endowment Fund

This was a Pension Fund performance

Broadcast live on Sirius Metropolitan Opera Radio
Streamed live at metopera.org

Macbeth received eleven performances this season


Production photos of Macbeth by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.

Review of David Shengold in the January 2008 issue of OPERA NEWS

On October 22, James Levine returned to Verdi's uneven, sublime "Macbeth" with a magisterial reading, in a dark but ultimately rather prosaic production by Adrian Noble, former artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, in his house debut. Noble's best work came with the chorus, radically improved in sound by the recent advent of chorus master Donald Palumbo, and fully invested in the drama, whether as quotidian, markedly British witches - resembling Monty Python lower-middleclass "old dears" and "little luvs" - or irregular soldiers evoking Bosnia or Nagorno-Karabakh. Noble also worked profitably with Zeljko Lucic, new to the company as Barnaba in last season's "La Gioconda." The Serbian artist may lack a distinctive timbre, and occasionally he flatted top notes, but in an age of "Kavalierbaritons" with big ambitions and played-out veristo barnstormers, what a pleasure to encounter a genuine Verdi baritone. Lucic sang with intelligent phrasing and an admirable piano-based technique. His resigned, legato-anchored "Pietà, rispetto, amore" was, with the chorus's searing "Patria oppressa," the emotional high point of the evening. (In general, the Met's new "Macbeth" followed Verdi's 1865 revision of the score, with the exception of the ballet, which was omitted.)

Lucic's expressivity through soft dynamics contrasted with the high-decibel, frustrating assault on Lady Macbeth's punishing music by Maria Guleghina. Guleghina does command some attributes of this tough role and she has been known to improve markedly during the course of a run. The sheer volume and soaring top had their exciting moments, and some florid passages worked surprisingly well. More often, however, the soprano swallowed vowels, left out syllables and musical line endings and broke up phrases for questionable "parlando" effects. Moreover, though she evidently had worked hard with Noble to develop the character, what emerged was a set of appliqué effects: now she stood on the bed, now she crept along a row of chairs, now she rolled on the floor. (Please, let's get the Met's divas off the floor!) On [the first] night, Guleghina's hearty theatrics never seemed internalized, least of all in a mad scene also quite distressingly sung, her support collapsing as she went along. Mark Thompson's black-and-white gowns made her look sensational, but the shoulder-less red dress for the party scene - a "veddy" 1950s British embassy assemblage - did the Russian soprano's impressive figure a serious injustice.

Noble's staging was crammed full of all kinds of extra-musical noise - yelling in the fight scenes, stage sprinklers, glib courtiers' applause for Duncan over his whimsical little march. Thompson's intriguing black set, with a gray rotunda with adjustable pillars and a raked playing area, could be used again for Montsalvat in "Parsifal." A huge, cloud-swept moon and fevered skies loomed above timeless blasted trees. Less timeless, an army jeep patrolled the Scottish border. Jean Kalman's lighting proved more daringly angled than typical Met designs but was somewhat compromised by an overused revolving lamp that stole focus from the principals and shone in the audience's eyes.

The promising young tenor Dimitri Pittas showed very little presence as Macduff - he needs to develop a float to be audible as the stirring Act I finale begins - but his major aria, well-sung in a somewhat monochrome but healthy, bright tenor, won a big ovation. John Relyea, in his second new Met production in less than a month, sounded like a highly competent, musical house-bass in a part calling for a big, rolling sound like that of Jerome Hines or Nicolai Ghiaurov. Noble handled the murder scene creatively, with Banquo lured into a false sense of security by former comrades; but through no fault of the dutiful Relyea, the bloody appearances of the dead Banquo were singularly unconvincing. Russell Thomas sounded first-rate in Malcolm's limited duties; Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs gave the Lady-in-Waiting a distinct vocal and dramatic profile.

"Macbeth" is highly welcome back after twenty years; the house's last production, by Peter Hall, got better with pruning and recasting, and the new one marks, if no triumph, a clear improvement, with genuine heroes in Lucic, Levine, Palumbo - and Verdi.




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