Verdi: Macbeth

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Verdi
LABELS: Eurostar Sine Qua Non
WORKS: Macbeth
PERFORMER: Renato Bruson, Gwyneth Jones, Roberto Scandiuzzi, Alberto Cupido; Fujiwara Opera Chorus, Tokyo PO/Gustav Kuhn
CATALOGUE NO: 39820242 DDD
Recorded live in Tokyo last year, this is a disappointing account of the earliest of Verdi’s three great Shakespearean operas, mainly because the contribution from the Japanese chorus and orchestra comes across as bland, uninvolved and thus uninvolving. Nor are the portrayers of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth at their best.

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Renato Bruson (a splendid Macbeth in the Philips recording conducted by Giuseppe Sinopoli)is in fine voice, but his characterisation is generalised. Even Macbeth’s dying utterance, ‘Mal per me’, fails to be at all moving. Gwyneth Jones’s Lady Macbeth sounds more than a trifle squallyin her first aria, lacks dramatic intensity in that marvellous banquet scene interrupted by Banquo’s ghost, and only becomes really effective in her sleepwalking scene near the end of the opera.

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Roberto Scandiuzzi brings a firmly focused bass voice and strong characterisation to Banquo, and Alberto Cupido makes the mostof Macduff’s aria. But even if the chorus had managed to sound as though their hearts were in it, and Gustav Kuhn had conducted them less tamely, this well-recorded performance would still not be my first, second or even third choice. Try Sinopoli on Philips, Abbado on DG or – my personal favourite – Leinsdorf on RCA with Leonard Warren and Leonie Rysanek, thrilling as the Macbeths.Charles Osborne