Worth Waiting For
Phyllida Lloyd's production of Verdi's 'Macbeth',
reviewed by ROBERT HUGILL
Phyllida Lloyd's production of Verdi's Macbeth was a long time in coming to London's Royal Opera House; postponed in 1997 during the run up to closure of the house for re-development it only finally appeared in 2002. Saturday 18 February 2006 saw the first night of the first revival of the production with Macbeth and the Lady being played by Thomas Hampson and Violetta Urmana, conducted by Yakov Kreizberg. It seems rather a long gap between première and revival, but it was worth waiting for.
Hampson and Urmana make a very attractive couple and it helps that in the first half, Lloyd depicts them as a loving married couple. The dramaturgy can be very effective if Macbeth and the Lady are not monsters from the outset. Rarely have I heard the title role sung so beautifully; Hampson came over as very suave and not so much evil as gullible and easily led. In this production the witches are omni-present orchestrating the action, for example they hide Banquo's son from the assassins. Finally, at the end they come on and triumph over Macbeth's corpse. This means that Macbeth is rather less the author of his own downfall than is usual. After all, in the play and in the libretto, Macbeth causes his own problems by believing the witches and trying to make their predictions happen. Here, he believes them, but they give him a far bigger helping hand. This interpretation is emphasised by Hampson's suave characterisation; it would be interesting to see the production in a revival with a grittier, more butch interpretation of the title role.
Copyright © 22 February 2006
Robert Hugill, London UK