Music and Vision homepage Jenna Orkin: Writer Wannabe Seeks Brush With Death - From the heights of greatness (the Juilliard School; musicians Rosalyn Tureck and Nadia Boulanger) via way-ward paths to the depths of wickedness these reminiscences will entertain and enlighten.

 

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Time and again Paule Constable's lighting got it right too -- most obviously at emphasising the nasty and shocking -- a corpse here, the plotting pair there, or nasty little pools of light on a dripping tap or the series of different-sized (but otherwise identical) gold cages, which double, shiveringly, as crowning throne, banqueting throne and the deliberately nasty-looking miniature frontstage casket, in which the crown visibly -- and ominously nestles, like a caged golden rat or a gleaming gremlin biding its moment.

Duncan himself (Gess Whitfield) arrives on a full-size gold horse carriage (after an Equus-like retinue of gold horses crosses the stage in miniature). It's a compelling image : the beckoning gold is like a plaited nexus, in which all the witches' threads of life somehow meet and interwine, germinate and terminate, there in front of our eyes. The very panelled rooms of the castle in which the Macbeths plot Duncan's murder, lord it over social mayhem (and, if we are to believe it, deprivation and famine) and will ultimately meet their individual demises, echo the image too, in Wards ideally forbidding imagery haunts and lingers : its point could scarcely be better made.

The deed is done: The Macbeths in Phyllida Lloyd's ROH production. Photo: Performing Arts Library
The deed is done: The Macbeths in Phyllida Lloyd's ROH production. Photo: Performing Arts Library

Michaels-Moore has a nice tang to his voice -- not unlike Andrzej Hiolski, doyen of the Warsaw opera, though there's much more weight and positive loading to Michaels-Moore's lower range, bringing him somewhat closer to Miles's resonant Banquo. Their duet singing was terrific. Fellow-bruiser he may be, but Banquo, father-to-be of kings, spots the rot early on. 'The evil spake true!', as Piave succinctly has it. Miles spits this out like a rotten cherry.

Piave, unlike Shakespeare (who starts with the fatal letter), gets Lady Macbeth in a nutshell at the start too : Guleghina's first uttered word is 'ambitioso'. There's a coffin-like bath awaiting her too, rearstage, and a front of stage tap comes and goes, so the water motif -- most obvious in Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking scene (Act IV, scene I of the play) -- is there from the outset. When the bath reappears, on cue, shortly before her expiry we might well fear she's going to cut her wrists (the old questions : did she commit suicide? die in childbirth?). Guleghina dwells on each note, with a loving kind of trill, too : she's a real obsessive, you feel, built for the job. When she flutes winsomely, nursed by Young's alluring trings, on 'Will Duncan be here?' we shiver; this would-be royal's hellish ensuing aria confirms our worst fears.

Maria Guleghina as Lady Macbeth. Photo: Performing Arts Library
Maria Guleghina as Lady Macbeth. Photo: Performing Arts Library

 

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Copyright © 25 July 2002 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK

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RODERIC DUNNETT ON THE RESIGNATION OF NICHOLAS PAYNE

THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE, COVENT GARDEN WEBSITE

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