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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fine "English" Macbeth
Not generally being a fan of English translations of operas, I have to say that this one is exceptionally good. Maybe that's because the Shakespeare original was in English! I thought Simon Keenlyside was in very fine voice and I heard no evidence of the "wobble" a previous reviewer thought he could detect. It's true that Keenlyside has lost some of the lightness...
Published 5 months ago by Mrs. D. L. Jones

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not up there with the best, I'm afraid
I will straight away admit to being disappointed by this latest, sixty-second and last recording in the Chandos Opera in English series made in collaboration with the Peter Moores Foundation. That disappointment centres upon the very audible decline in the baritone of its protagonist, Simon Keenlyside, an artist for whom I have long had the highest admiration...
Published 6 months ago by Ralph Moore


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not up there with the best, I'm afraid, 4 April 2014
By 
Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Verdi: Macbeth (Audio CD)
I will straight away admit to being disappointed by this latest, sixty-second and last recording in the Chandos Opera in English series made in collaboration with the Peter Moores Foundation. That disappointment centres upon the very audible decline in the baritone of its protagonist, Simon Keenlyside, an artist for whom I have long had the highest admiration.

I heard him sing Macbeth in Italian at Covent Garden in October 2011 and was transported by the ringing virility of his baritone; since them, however, it would seem that a combination of aging and three years of singing heavier roles in big houses worldwide has taken its toll: the voice now verges on the hoarse, its lustre and smooth legato gone, its tonal centre blurred and its evenness marred by the dreaded wobble. He is still a splendid vocal actor with the top A flat the role demands but scarcely any longer recognisable as the baritone who sang Schubert Lieder with such patrician beauty; he now too often shouts his way through the part.

Latonia Moore, a distinguished Aida, has something of the smoky timbre typically associated with so many of the great Afro-American voices of the past but her lower register is cloudy and although she has the heft for the top notes, delivered with a quasi-hysterical intensity wholly apt to portray the demonic Lady, they border on the blowsy. Nor can she provide the visceral thrill we experience in the interpretations of previous exponents such as Callas whose cavernous low notes and portamento inflections really do incarnate "the voice of a she-devil" Verdi wanted. She manages the high piano D on her exit in the Sleepwalking Scene but it is only touched on and not eerily, delicately floated as it ideally should be.

Finally, on the debit side, Gwyn Hughes Jones' voice is too light and "British" to be a real Verdi tenor so his aria makes little impact.

The vocal honours go to bass Brindley Sherratt as a sonorous, imposing Banquo; his duets with Keenlyside are immaculately phrased, their voices always synchronised. The chorus is lusty and the orchestral playing far finer than has sometimes been the case with the ENO in previous years. Edward Garner conducts with verve and gusto and Jeremy Sams' English translation works really well, even for those of us already accustomed to the rhythms of the original Italian. The recorded sound is excellent: warm, balanced and immediate.

Yet none of these virtues much matter if the two principle singers do not measure up to the demands of their roles. The debate regarding the value and merit of opera in English is a contentious one but it seems to me that the ubiquitousness of surtitles and the availability of libretti have to some degree neutralised the arguments for it either live or in recordings and ultimately it is the quality of the performance, regardless of the language an opera is sung in, that determines its desirability. Thus I would in preference to this recording direct you to the many established, classic studio versions such as those by Abbado, Gardelli, Leinsdorf and Muti with artists such as Cappuccilli with Verrett and Sass, Rysanek with Warren, and Milnes with Cossotto. If you want the original 1847 score sung by British artists, John Matheson's excellent studio recording for Opera Rara with Rita Hunter and Peter Glossop is a safe recommendation. This Chandos recording provides as a bonus the alternative 1847 ending but Sherrill Milnes recorded excerpts from that for a 1974 recital album when he was in demonstrably better voice than Keenlyside here. The ne plus ultra amongst Lady Macbeths remains Callas, but sadly we have only a live 1952 performance in poor sound or the incomparable excerpts recorded with Rescigno, as she never made a studio recording of the complete opera.

It is to any of those that I shall return before this latest issue from Chandos.

[This review also posted on the MusicWeb International website]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fine "English" Macbeth, 12 May 2014
By 
Mrs. D. L. Jones "LadyDi" (Birmingham, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Verdi: Macbeth (Audio CD)
Not generally being a fan of English translations of operas, I have to say that this one is exceptionally good. Maybe that's because the Shakespeare original was in English! I thought Simon Keenlyside was in very fine voice and I heard no evidence of the "wobble" a previous reviewer thought he could detect. It's true that Keenlyside has lost some of the lightness of the Schubert recital recording, but that was 20 years ago and voices do get darker with age, and his is very suited to the "dark" role of Macbeth. He is an excellent actor, and this was evident even in an audio-only medium.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Latonia Moore is superb, 18 May 2014
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This review is from: Verdi: Macbeth (Audio CD)
I usually perefere Macbeth sung in Italian, but as this is one of the rare occasions to get a CD with Latonia Moore I took the opportinity and her interpretation of Lady Macbeth was worth it.
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Verdi: Macbeth
Verdi: Macbeth by Latonia Moore (Audio CD - 2014)
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