EMI has just launched a series of DVD's called "Live at the Met" and this superb "Macbeth" is one of the first half dozen issues released recently. Although one of Verdi's best creations from his first phase of composition, this opera lacks the taut drama and measured tension of its Shakespearian origin, so a successful outcome rests very much on the performances of the two main roles and the conductor.
In this particular recording, the choice of Zeljko Lucic and Maria Guleghina must have been nothing short of inspired. Lucic's rendition is full of terrifying and eclectic overtones, often grim and disturbing, but moments of lightheartedness are not amiss. Guleghina's Lady Macbeth is initially a smoldering cauldron of passion and ambition, but by the time of her sleepwalking scene she is able to transform herself into a tragically chilling and pitiful person with searing ability.
Levine's conducting is incisive and insightful; he keeps the whole piece moving briskly along, but exerts a tight rein all along. Adrian noble's production may not please the purists, but his setting is very much in line with many unpleasant events in recent times. An auspicious issue in first rate sound and vision further enhanced by an excellent "behind the scenes" documentary featuring the mainstays of this memorable January 2008 night at the MET.
Copyright © 2008, Gerald Fenech