Macbeth for me is while not in my top 7 of Verdi's operas one of his better early ones along with Luisa Miller. The music is wonderful, grippingly intense, and the story likewise. This is an outstanding production. The best Macbeth I've seen? No, not quite, the 1976 La Scala production with Cappuccilli, Verrett, Ghiaurov and Luchetti holds the crown for that title. The 1987 Nucci/Verrett, 1987 Bruson/Zampieri, 1972 Glyndebourne and 2004 Alvarez/Guleghina(which is also directed by Phyllida Lloyd) performances are also worth noting. The production is not quite perfect, I did think the symbolism with the blood, beds, washing hands and cages was overdone at times, though I can definitely see why they were used and they were effective with the atmosphere(the large cage at the end to signify entrapment did work remarkably I felt), just towards the end it felt too much. The costumes and sets though are very evocative, and helped by excellent video directing and picture quality. The orchestral playing is suitably forceful when it needs to be with a lot of thrust and no holding back in crucial scenes. Antonio Pappano's conducting is commanding and suitably Italianate while never too heavy-handed or "polite". The chorus are superb as well, they have a lot to do and they are especially haunting in Act 3. The witches are genuinely scary, while the refugees blend beautifully with one another. The performances are great, with the standout being the bloodcurdling Lady Macbeth of Liudmyla Monastyrska, complete with a commanding yet flexible voice necessary for the Sleepwalking aria. Simon Keenlyside does remarkably as her husband, his voice is virile as ever and he acts with much conviction, intense yet with swagger and his aria before the assault on Birnham Woods is very moving. Raymond Aceta is a nobly sung Banco and Dmitri Pittas is a poignant Macduff. The cameo of the doctor and lady-in-waiting is beautifully done as well. So overall, despite some of the symbolism the production is outstanding. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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