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Verdi: Macbeth, Royal Opera House, Opus Arte [DVD]  [NTSC]
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Black, red, cream and gold are the colours that define Phyllida Lloyd's Royal Opera House staging of Verdi's robust, yet penetrating setting of Shakespeare's Scottish play. Manipulated by a whole coven of cunning, scarlet-turbanned witches, the characters often evoke figures in a splendid Gothic fresco. With Simon Keenlyside making his British debut, as an athletic, brooding Macbeth and Liudmyla Monastyrska as his Lady, both imperious and subtle, this performance, masterfully conducted by Antonio Pappano, goes far beyond mere sound and fury.
"...an impressive company showcase, full of moments when chorus and orchestra are at full throttle. Whipped up by Antonio Pappano's baton, they sound truly thrilling." (The Guardian)
"He conducted Verdi's score with a tangible sense of drama and fire." (Seen and Heard International)
"Simon Keenlyside and Liudmyla Monastyrska give one of the finest portrayals of the couple that I have come across. In both cases what lifts them into the category of the very special is the way they manage to chart the character's development. Macbeth is a role that Keenlyside has grown into. He has the depth, the charisma and the energy that make the role complex and interesting; more than a great soldier laid low. His baritone is rounded and complex, just right to capture the many facets of the character's journey.
" (Musicweb International)
"you know that Keenlyside is an accomplished lieder-singer by the dramatic precision in this phrase readings throughout (his Act 4 aria has such emotional transparency he almost breaks your heart)... Monastyrska unleashes such pent-up venom with her sharp-edged vocalism that the total package is almost too psychologically repulsive... the production is wonderfully atmospheric... Pappano is the most important artistic catalyst
CastSimon Keenlyside (Macbeth)Liudmyla Monastyrska (Lady Macbeth)Raymond Aceto (Banquo)
The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House; Antonio PappanoStage Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Catalogue Number: OA1063DDate of Performance: 2011Running Time: 170 minutesSound: 2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTSAspect Ratio: 16:9 AnamorphicSubtitles: EN, FR, DE, IT, ESLabel: Opus Arte
an impressive company showcase, full of moments when chorus and orchestra are at full throttle. Whipped up by Antonio Pappano's baton, they sound truly thrilling. --The Guardian
Keenlyside provides an imaginative realization of Macbeth's weak and increasingly fragmented character, sung with distinction. A bold and determined musical realization. --Opera,Apr'12
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Top Customer Reviews
But first the good points. The singing is first class with no weak points in any of the singers. Keenleyside has an elegant baritone and puts it do good use here with a Macbeth that is robust but not snarling. Monastryska has a vivid and exceptional soprano voice and is everything you would want Lady Macbeth to sound like. I found some of the coloratura a little 'false' (for want of a better word) but never disasterous as it can be with lesser voices.
For the most part I found the production inoffensive but with no particular insight to give. The witches were annoying however and ill-conceived and not exactly threatening.
However the downside for me was the lack of dramatic thrust - especialy from Lady M. Unfortunatly the soprano, while having an excellent voice, did not cut the mustard dramatically for me. Not having seen her in any thing else I'm not sure if this was the fault of the production, lack of rehearsal time or that she simply isn't an actress - I'd probably guess the latter. She seemed to wear an all-purpose expression of anger/disdain for most of the opera and reminded me of opera singers in years gone by with standard stock gestures and arm movements - definitely a throw back. Given the importance of Lady M in the opera this is a major drawback and for all the dramatic attention to detail she could having been singing from the Yellow Pages.
So, a mixed bag for me but fabulous singing and wonderful conducting from Pappano makes it still worth a look - or listen.
This revival at Royal Opera House of Phyllida Lloyd's Macbeth ran from 24th May 2011 to 18th June 2011 and there was only one performance (13th June) which was filmed and transferred to DVD. It was also relayed in cinemas.
The production is already available on DVD with Carlos Álvarez & Maria Guleghina in the title roles but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the DVD of this revival with this cast. Simon Keenlyside & Liudmyla Monastyrska are outstanding as Macbeth & Lady Macbeth; Raymond Aceto & Dimitri Pittas give excellent portrayals of Banco & Macduff respectively and the minor roles are performed extremely well especially the beautiful cameo of the Doctor & Lady-in-Waiting (Lukas Jakobski & Elisabeth Meister). The Royal Opera Chorus is superb with wonderful choruses of the witches & the refugees & Maestro Pappano in the pit is on sparkling form as usual.
I saw the dress rehearsal & this DVD is nothing like the dress rehearsal. I also saw two performances & the live cinema relay & I'm just so pleased I have a permanent reminder of some of the finest opera I have ever seen.
This is the strongest company of singers of all thee productions I have seen, it is vocally well balanced with every member of the cast giving their all. Simon Keenlyside is excellent in the title role, his rich baritone voice being more suited to the role than either Kostas Paskalis or Carlos Alvarez. It is however the political machinations of his wife, Lady Macbeth, around which both play and opera revolve, and in Liudmyla Monastryrska we have the ideal person to portray her lust for power. In many ways she steals the show, the intensity in her voice and her acting making her performance one of the main highlights of the production. With Raymond Aceto giving an ideal performance as Banquo, making this the finest trio I have seen. This is very much an ensemble performance, with all, from the least of the soloists to the excellent Covent Garden Chorus and Orchestra, under the inspired leadership of Antonio Pappano, deserving the highest praise!
The extras are interesting, although the cast gallery is not big enough, showing only a few of the characters.Read more ›
The production used a lot of symbolism (blood, hand washing, beds, cages etc.) for me this was rather overdone and didn't always work. For example: the large cage worked quite well at the end of the opera, MacBeth getting trapped in there by MacDuff. However it didn't work at all well in the banqueting scene which consequently fell rather flat. The witches costumes presumably symbolized something but I couldn't figure out what - as a result they just looked strange - rather Turkish and not at all witch like. However I liked the idea of the witches driving things along - including helping Banquo's son escape.
The performances were all very good - I particularly enjoyed Liudmyla Monastryrska as Lady MacBeth. Antonio Pappano and the Royal Opera House Orchestra were at there usual very high standard.
Audio, Video and Video Editing are all excellent.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
this is a magnificent production with special praise to the handling of the chorus - first class singers, though costumes slightly confusing a real must for opera fansPublished on 1 Sept. 2013 by Mrs Ann L. Keen
Good speedy service. Would recommend. Bought this after seeing her in Met's Nabucco. Go for it you'll not be disappointedPublished on 11 May 2013 by Plain Jane
I only recently discovered the merits of Simon Keenlyside whilst at the Royal Opera House June 2011 to see Macbeth which was excellent both the production and the performances. Read morePublished on 17 April 2012 by Houston7