Verdi Macbeth, Royal Opera House
Wednesday 25 May 2011
Phyllida Lloyd’s 2002 staging of Verdi’s Macbeth is prematurely looking like a parody of itself - an exhibit in one of designer Anthony Ward’s gilded display cases.
But it’s sounding rather terrific in this second revival and before we actually see the shrieking and cackling hags of Verdi’s prelude – a bizarrely choreographed red-turbaned chorus line – Antonio Pappano has rendered them, along with the blood and thunder of brassy premonitions, in high-definition. And that, one presumes, is how it will be relayed live into cinemas across the nation and the world on 13 June.
Pappano’s presence on the podium lifts the whole occasion and his relish, rhythmically and texturally, for this most exciting and experimental of scores gives it tremendous immediacy. It sounds new; it just doesn’t look it – though aspects of Lloyd’s direction are bold and true: like the use of the witches as agents of plot development – like ferrying Macbeth’s letter from the battlefield to his wife’s pillow. And there is one startlingly effective moment when we are shown the Macbeth family that might have been – replete with its brood of happy offspring – before the marital bed is split in two and we see them for what they are: loveless, childless, alienated.
Casting-wise the power behind the throne is something that Verdi went all-out to nail and to say that the abundantly talented Liudmyla Monastyrska takes no prisoners is something of an understatement. She devours her entrance aria like it’s something she does each day to warm up and rarely will you hear a voice dominating the ensembles in this way: she crowned that roar of outrage at the discovery of Duncan’s murder, “Hell open wide and swallow all creation”, with startling power. She won’t need a cinema relay – you’ll hear her in Aberdeen.
But, as we heard in her Aida, she doesn’t shirk the more finessed markings and coloratura and though the sleepwalking scene was not her best singing of the evening she almost managed the wicked piano D-flat at the close. Of course, her school of acting could not be further removed from Simon Keenlyside whose sonorous vocal production and really grateful legato is what Verdi baritone roles are all about. But then Verdi took his power-crazed Lady M to the cusp of recklessness and provided Monastyrska continues to curb her “chesting” and not sing the role too often then she could still be singing it in 10 years time. Hopefully not, though, in this production.
Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year
TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 Tory activist asked to step down after Labour candidate Rupa Huq is 'manhandled' while questioning Boris Johnson on the campaign trail
- 5 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
The C-Word, TV review: Sheridan Smith shines in a warm, honest account of a woman enduring a still too common fate
X-Men Apocalypse: First look at Jubilee and Jean Grey played by Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner
American Horror Story: Hotel Angela Bassett set to make 'lots of trouble' with Lady Gaga in season 5
Adam Sandler's The Ridiculous Six: Make-up 'used to darken skin of actors to make them look Native American'
The highly NSFW poster for Gaspar Noé's Love makes Nymphomaniac look like 50 Shades
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils