Libretto: Francesco Maria Piave ( after Shakespeare)
Music: Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto: Francesco Maria Piave
Director: Tim Albery
Reviewer: Malcolm Wallace
Premiering in 1847, Verdi’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s murderous tale of greed is one of those operas that, while treated respectfully by most major opera companies, crops up much less often than Verdi’s more popular and arguably superior operas such as La Traviata, Aida, and Il Trovatore among many others.
Tim Albery’s production is very dark (literally) and this is reflected in Johan Engels simple design and Bruno Poet’s stark lighting both of which are in keeping with the grim tones of the original material. However, this drabness does get wearing and I think there would be some benefit in the introduction of a little more colour into the fairly brief lighter moments.
Musically it’s not Verdi at his best, although there are pockets of genius and the Orchestra of Opera North under the very capable baton of Tobias Ringborg make the absolute most of the more dramatic passages. There is also extensive use of the excellent Opera North chorus, particularly the female chorus who inhabit the stage as observing witches and slink around in a tremendously creepy manner thus augmenting the overarching darkness of the production,
Excellent singing is showcased throughout. Bela Perencz is an imposing Macbeth with a stunning voice that soars across the theatre and he is equally matched by Paul Whelan as Banquo. Kelly Cae Hogan as Lady Macbeth takes some time to warm up but as the evening progresses she displays significant vocal range and acting ability. On this basis it’s criminal that Verdi and librettist Francesco Maria Piave fail to maximise on this complex character rewarding her a disappointingly dull aria as her story concludes and she descends into madness.
Opera lovers and Verdi fans will enjoy this production as it has much to recommend it. However, as an introduction to opera this production is unlikely to spark an interest.
Photo: Bill Cooper | Reviewed on 6th March 2014