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Piave's Macbeth shifts, too. I made it a mere twenty second plotters'
exchange before Duncan's pygmy retinue swishes in : if you're planning regicide,
do it quick, before it leaks. The shift to white light from the innocent
gold that bathes Duncan forewarns us : a single beam from the door makes
do for the dagger, up and down which Michaels-Moore's anxious Macbeth paces;
The duo's guilty recitatives are crystal clear, the cellos (as she cossets
the bloody frame of her husband) positively ironic, the nervy violas (preceding
her renewed 'be firm in your purpose') eerie and chilling. Guleghina's 'The
night is falling', added by Verdi for the 1865 version, was one of the finest
set pieces of the whole evening.
Maria Guleghina as Lady Macbeth. Photo: Performing Arts Library
Banquo gets a set piece, too, for it is he -- not Ross and Lennox, as
the Bard has it -- whom Piave makes arrive, along with Will Hartmann's finely
sung MacDuff (Cologne-trained, Hartmann now sings with Opera Hannover).
Banquo's murder -- cleverly done, as en famille he visits Duncan's
mausoleum, where the murderers lurk in monks' habits more like something
out of Richard III -- armed with just sad trombones and strings ironically
doubling his apprehensions -- paves the way for an equally chilling ghost
scene : no banquet table, just an obligingly peripatetic chorus, rendering
the trio's actions the clearer. Guleghina tops out the chorus superbly;
and as Macbeth recovers (yet again), Verdi adds a riveting passage in violins
and violas, welling up again. But the writing is on the wall : this Macbeth
is already done for.
Copyright © 25 July 2002
Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK
RODERIC DUNNETT ON THE RESIGNATION OF NICHOLAS PAYNE
THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE, COVENT GARDEN WEBSITE