Verdi: Macbeth; plus documentary

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Verdi
LABELS: TDK
ALBUM TITLE: Verdi
WORKS: Macbeth; plus documentary
PERFORMER: Thomas Hampson, Paoletta Marrocu; Zurich Opera Chorus & Orchestra/ Franz Welser-Most; dir. David Pountney (Zurich, 2001)
CATALOGUE NO: DV-OPMAC
David Pountney’s production for this 2001 Zurich staging has a mixed set of visual values (Korean riot police provide a recurring theme) and a lack of serious attention to character and narrative. The quirks – just as in his ENO Macbeth, the assassination of Banquo is carried out by transvestites — are self-advertising and get in the way of what is a psychologically rich but in many ways quite straightforward drama.

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Nothing that Thomas Hampson does is ever boring, and here his intelligently conceived, effectively sung Macbeth scores strongly in every area except that of voice: he is not a natural Verdi baritone, but it’s a brave effort. Paoletta Marrocu is a precise but monochrome Lady Macbeth, who might have made more of the role had she been left alone to concentrate on vocal acting. Roberto Scandiuzzi is a distinguished Banquo (with characteristic perversity Pountney does not allow him a reappearance in the banquet scene) and Luis Lima as Macduff sings vigorously while looking lost, as well he might. Franz Welser-Most is the diligent but anonymous conductor.

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There are some brief notes and a synopsis in the booklet, and the first disc contains a 45-minute documentary with performer interviews. George Hall