Verdi: Macbeth; plus documentary

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

WORKS: Macbeth; plus documentary
PERFORMER: Thomas Hampson, Paoletta Marrocu; Zurich Opera Chorus & Orchestra/ Franz Welser-Most; dir. David Pountney (Zurich, 2001)
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.


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.


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