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A good Macbeth from Parma but could have done with more atmosphere
Macbeth is the best of Verdi's early operas, and while not the best Macbeth on DVD(1972 Glyndebourne, though 1976 La Scala is the best I've seen overall that hasn't had a DVD release) this Macbeth from Parma was a good one and doesn't disgrace the opera really. Things of course could have been done better and it was to do with some of the staging(none of it is as bad as the 2009 Violeta Urmana production). The Witches' scenes were completely lacking in atmosphere(especially that of Act 3), partly because of the lack of any smoke or whatnot and partly because of the Witches being inexplicably dressed like washerwomen; I saw no reason for a dwarf bringing in the letter for Lady Macbeth; and the banquet scene's lighting could have been more discreet and had more variety, unless you know the story beforehand you wouldn't know looking here that Macbeth was hallucinating. However, the hybrid of traditional and modern for the costumes and sets worked well and looked good as well. The camera work is careful not to intrude too much though it could have captured more of the stage sometimes, and the sound is excellent. There are bits of staging that don't work, but there are others like the intense murder of Banco, Macbeth's final aria and the sleep-walking scene that did and compellingly as well. The orchestra play with a lovely sound and with style and power too, no matter what clothing they're in in all respects the chorus are outstanding and Bruno Bartoletti's conducting shows a great understanding for Verdi and his musicianship is just wonderful. The principal performances are really good, the top honours going to Leo Nucci's nuanced and authoritative Macbeth, he never did have the most beautiful voice- often for my tastes pushed and wiry- but he always did use it with great variety of tone colour and intelligence and you can hear that clearly here. Sylvie Valayre's low notes aren't quite strong enough and she simplifies the passage-work at times, but her Lady Macbeth is on the most part thrillingly sung and dramatically she effectively curdles the blood. Enrico Iori has a pleasing tone, beautiful phrasing and great dramatic intensity, an excellent Banco once you get over his Freddie Mercury-like appearance. Roberto Iuliano's voice is stylish and with great clarity and melting lyricism, his Macduff is very moving. To conclude, good and well sung though with more atmosphere it could have been more. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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