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Lady Macbeth is queen of the night

Russian soprano Anna Netrebko steals the show in a grand staging of Verdi’s Macbeth at the Royal Opera House

06 April, 2018 — By Sebastian Taylor

Željko Lučić (Macbeth) and Anna Netrebko (Lady Macbeth). Photo: ROH/Bill Cooper

“Macbeth”, wrote Verdi to his librettist, “is one of the greatest creations of man.” And the Royal Opera House has pulled out all the stops in putting on the Verdi Macbeth in the grand style he would have appreciated.

Superstar of the show is Russian soprano Anna Netrebko as a fiery, passionate Lady Macbeth singing her solo arias with powerful conviction. Her sleepwalking scene is the pièce de résistance of the evening. Indeed, her stage presence/singing capability is so commanding that poor baritone Željko Lučić has a hard time of it as Macbeth. With any other singer as his wife, he’d be the one stealing the show. But with Netrebko, he hasn’t a chance.

Other roles are well sung, notably Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as Banquo and Yusif Eyvazov as Macduff.

The staging is a revival of Phyllida Lloyd’s 2002 production which is well past its sell-by date. Most scenes are set in a gloomy castle keep with 50 shades of black that opens out at the back to accommodate the crowd scene. The cast wear black, only some alleviation coming from the odd white and golden costumes worn by the two Macbeths and red hats by the witches. It all has the feel of the classic English view of Scotland as cold, dark country without any hint of colour.

Antonio Pappano brings out the best of Verdi’s score, dominated by endless riffs played by the brass in a forerunner to the Requiem and by the chorus in a starring role.

Macbeth is performed on April 7 and 10 at 7.30pm at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, WC2, 020 7304 4000, www.roh.org.uk

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