I love Verdi, and until recently I didn't know much about his opera Macbeth other than the basic outline of the story. But I watched this production as any production featuring Renato Bruson or Mara Zampieri is worth watching, and even more so with them together.
This Macbeth, assuredly directed by Brian Large, is very effective a vast majority of the time. It does however have three or so things I wasn't so keen on, Sinoppoli does conduct with real precision and passion but there is too much time when the camera focuses on him and this is especially annoying when this is done during the action.
There was also one scene where I wasn't too fond of the staging, and that was the witches' choruses. It was sung brilliantly, and the witches do look very sinister, but very little is done beyond that to make that scene more interesting. And I wish they didn't omit the cauldron, consequently Bruson's line about it "the cauldron has disappeared" didn't make sense. James Morris has a very good voice and he does have his moments as Banco particularly his reappearance at the banquet but his acting in other places is rather wooden.
Faults aside, I loved the costumes and sets. They are dark and foreboding and that was an effect I liked very much. The video directing apart from showing too much of Sinoppoli was excellent too, as was the lighting. The banquet scene with Banco's ghost is very well done as are the apparitions, and any scene with Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is riveting.
The orchestra play superbly despite the cuts to the score, the most glaring omission being the act 3 chorus, and despite a somewhat uneven performance from Morris the performances are excellent. Renato Bruson is one of the best Verdi baritones of the late 70s-all the way through to the 80s, and as Macbeth he is commanding and just awesome. His wonderful voice and technique is put to great use and as an actor he is really quite outstanding. For me though, the star was Mara Zampieri, like Bruson she is outstanding as a singing-actor/actress, with her steely voice ideal for Lady Macbeth and an acting ability that is enough to give you the chills.
In conclusion, a very effective production if not perfect. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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