Thursday, June 23, 2011

Macbeth Preview 2011-12

Verdi's Macbeth returns to the Met in Adrian Nobles haunting production which opened in 2007.

Thomas Hampson as Macbeth and Nadja Michael as Lady Macbeth [Photo by Dan Rest courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago]

The Production
Adrian Noble's production of Macbeth returns to the Metropolitan Opera for the first time since its premiere run in 2007. Mr. Noble, a specialist in Shakespeare sets the opera in one of the World Wars. The set is a dark and empty circle surrounded by stylised trees. He plays with chairs, beds and the witches are dressed as grumpy old housewives. He plays with lighting using torches and lamps to create haunting imagery and great effects. The choreography in the final battle scene is some of the best the Met has to offer. While many had problems with some of Noble's choices such as Lady Macbeth rolling around the floor, I found each and everyone of his choices spectacular and captivating. The staging while minimalist is still very traditional and will most likely be at the Met for many years to come.

The Cast  
Thomas Hampson adds the role of Macbeth to his Met repertoire. For many years Mr. Hampson sang Mozart and Bel-canto roles but has slowly been changing his repertoire to pure Verdi and Puccini. In addition he has become a specialist in Mahler, a repertoire which is very focused on text. Therefore Hampson is known for approaching his roles according to the text and and emphasizing certain vowels and words in the libretto. His recent change of repertoire in my opinion this has made his voice weaker, wobbly and sound forced. His voice is that of  lyrical baritone, and therefore to small for Verdi and Puccini. However at the Met he has sang many Verdi roles including Posa in Don Carlo, Simon Boccanegra, Don Carlo in Ernani, and Germont in La Traviata. Of these roles I have had the chance to hear him do all except Posa and I can honestly say that the Don Carlo is the only one that he has excelled in. This year he faces a big challenge as Macbeth is one of the most difficult roles for baritone in the Verdi canon. He has sang the role numerous times and most recently last year at the Lyric Opera of Chicago for which he was praised for his emphasis on the text and his praising. All in all, I can't predict what Hampson will add to the role or how he will sound. As of late Hampson's voice seems more sturdy. This is can bee seen in the new Traviata release by Opus Arte and in the Tosca released by Decca. All I can hope is that he brings something new to the role.

Nadja Micheal makes her Met Debut in the role of Lady Macbeth. Hailed for her dramatic skills and her interpretation of the Salome, Michael sang Lady Macbeth alongside Hampson in the Lyric Opera of Chcago. She was hailed for her power and intensity as well as her acting skills. I have never heard Michael's voice so I am very excited to see what all the hype is about.

Macbeth Costume Sketch LMB 10110(1)

Dimitri Pittas returns to the role of Macduff, a role he triumphed in, in 2007. The New York Times hailed him for his melting sound and dramatic urgency. As I stated before in my Boheme preview, he has a beautiful voice but it is his physical that does not allow him to act or move around the stage as well. However unlike Rodolfo, Macduff is a secondary character which has important parts in the opera but is not required as much acting prowess as the two leads, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.


I expect the same chemistry Michael and Hampson had when they sang the roles in Chicago. However I can not predict how great Hampson will sound in this opera. Michael will most likely have a great debut and Pittas will probably triumph as he did last time. Finally, I suspect that audiences will love this production as much as they did when it opened regardless of what critics will say.

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