L’amico Alucard, fedele lettore di questo blog, si è offerto spontaneamente di tradurre in inglese la mia recensione semiseria del Macbeth di Salisburgo. Immagino che la sua motivazione principale sia rendere nota urbi et orbi la mia pochezza, ma sapete come si dice, basta che se ne parli (strasmile).
Scherzi a parte, lo ringrazio pubblicamente.
In giornata, credo, pubblicherò un piccolo post sulla controversa Adelaide di Borgogna al ROF, intanto ecco di seguito il Macbeth.
The Macbeth of Giuseppe Verdi is considered as one of those operas impossible to perform today, because one believes that there are no singers who can match up to performances, which have gone down to history. In this cases, there is always a name that comes up: Maria Callas, who, left an indelible imprint on the role at La Scala in Milan in 1952, with an extraordinary Victor de Sabata conducting.
Actually, those performances weren’t welcomed with open arms by the audience, because Maria Callas was too ahead of her times, according to some galleryites of La Scala. It looks like she did what Giuseppe Verdi himself wrote to Barbieri-Nini (the first Lady Macbeth):
I believe that now is the moment to abandon the usual formulae and approaches and I believe that this experience shall be valuable thanks to your talent.
Anyway, I won’t bore you as those fuddy-duddy critics do and so, now that I mentioned Saint Mary, I’ll go on.
In other words, I will talk about the Macbeth of the Salzburg Festival, taking place in the pleasant little town in Austria where Verdi did never have an easy ride. This marvelous opera was indeed performed there for the first time in 1964 thanks to Wolfgang Sawallisch and after that Herbert von Karajan (as you may have noticed I am mentioning small-time names) conducted Verdi’s works in those places.
In this occasion Riccardo Muti is to be thanked for his decision to perform the opera.
At first it had to be filmed by TV, but it is rumoured that Muti himself prohibited it. This is why we have to make the best of the live radio broadcast that, unfortunately, always makes it impossible to the critic to have a complete idea of the performance.
By the way, Verdi took care of the casting of the singers (that, if possible, was more difficult than usual) and of the staging. He was so worried by the witch chorus and the sleepwalking scene of Lady Macbeth, that he called none but one of the most important scenographer of the time, Alessandro Sanquirico.
Again from the letters to Barbieri-Nini:
the sleepwalking scene is one of the best theatrical creations as far as dramatic action is concerned; you have to remember that every word has its meaning, and it has to be expressed both through your singing and your acting. Everything must be whispered and must strike terror and pity.
I would say that Barbieri-Nini herself stroke terror, as she wasn’t beautiful for sure (smile).
I must say that the quality of the radio transmission by RADIO3 was very bad, I don’t know who’s responsible for it, but here are my impressions.
In my opinion Riccardo Muti‘s conducting was very dry, and in some points it lacked of vigour, even though, especially at the end of the finale of act I, the orchestra tended to blare. Anyway, I repeat it again, the conduction is very hard to judge from a radio transmission, because the dynamics are different from those that can be heard in the theatre. Generally, and it is unusual for Muti, his performance lacked of personality, one can expect everything of him but an uninspired conduction.
I cannot explain why one decided to begin the third act with the ballet and use the finale of the 1847 version.
Maybe this is due to the decision to stage a mix of the 2 versions of Macbeth, but it was not convincing, it just created a lot of confusion.
I appreciated the performance of Tatiana Serjan, who unfortunately has a serious diction problem. She has a lisp and it came out in the letter scene. I heard her in theater several time and I can understand why the audience liked her so much. Her voice is not very nice, but she has penetrating high notes (tonight’s high Cs seemed very good ), a big middle register and a little over-darkened lower one, where she tends to push too much. I noticed that she reduced her characteristic tight vibrato, a good sign, since this problem is usually worsened by radio broadcasts. Furthermore, the soprano has an excellent stage presence and gave the right emphasis to sentences without exaggerate. The first aria was very good, while the one of the second act, La luce langue, turned out not that well. In the sleepwalking scene the emotional participation could be felt, high notes were a bit strained and it ended with the D flat written by Verdi. On the whole, it was a good performance.
Željko Lučić hasn’t a charming voice either and his interpretation was rather generic, a mortal sin if you sing Macbeth, I dare say.
Now pay attention to the triple somersault of the good critic.
There were no particular mistakes – some flat notes could be heard – but he lacked to focus on the the dramatic quality of the opera text. A performance without praise or blame (actually there were some) in the third act, probably similar to that of other 30 baritones currently singing, and not the best ones (well, he wasn’t that good, right? Smile!)
I would regard to Dmitry Belosselsky‘s performance as widely bad. The radio broadcasting suggested that he has a large voice, but he has no legato and it showed in aria of Banquo, Studia il passo, mio figlio.
Giuseppe Filianoti, Macduff, didn’t convince me. He had a small role and he was in a better shape on other occasions. The role of Macduff isn’t very demanding, but the aria of the third act (Ah, la paterna mano) is too well known and so comparisons with famous singers are not unusual. The beginning was problematic and the high notes (an euphemism) were very strained. The audience, that during the evening was generous, was petrified.
Supporting singers’s performance, whose names can be found on the poster, was regular. The Choir was out of time at times. But in good shape.
The orchestra, the renowned and (tonight) disappointing Wiener Philharmoniker didn’t impress me. I found them rather dull.
The audience clapped enthusiastically for every performer.
I don’t know what else to say, this review was written in one go.
If there is any mistake, tell me and I’ll correct it (or them…)
Macbeth, Željko Lučić
Banco, Dmitry Belosselsky
Lady Macbeth, Tatiana Serjan
Macduff, Giuseppe Filianoti
Malcolm, Antonio Poli
Doctor, Gianluca Buratto
Servant to Macbeth, Andrè Schuen
Lady-in-waiting, Anna Malavasi
Assassin, Liviu Gheorghe
Herald , Ion Tibrea