Paoletta Marrocu as Lady Macbeth, Washington National Opera, photo by Karin Cooper
Lado Ataneli and Paoletta Marrocu in Macbeth, Washington National Opera, photo by Karin Cooper
Far and away, the best role in the opera is Lady Macbeth, whose music and dramatic scenes provide most of the reason to stage this opera at all. Soprano Paoletta Marrocu, who was quite good in the 2004 Andrea Chénier here, was a dramatically convincing and attractive Lady Macbeth. The sleepwalking scene ("Out, out, damned spot") and the banquest scene were examples of her fine acting. Vocally, she had the power necessary to communicate the bloody single-mindedness of this memorable character, except for some of the low passages, where she was completely covered. All evening long, however, something about her vocal production colored her pitch toward flatness. This was particularly painful in the brindisi, the toast during the banquet scene at the end of Act II, where the challenging staccato notes were badly out of tune.
Philip Kennicott, Verdi, Worth His Weight in Popcorn (Washington Post, May 14)
T. L. Ponick, Lavish WNO 'Macbeth' (Washington Times, May 14)
Maury D'Annato, I screen, you screen... (My Favorite Intermissions, May 12)
Verdi and his librettist, the mediocre but obedient Francesco Maria Piave, had already transformed Shakespeare's medieval Scotland into a sort of fusion with Catholic Italy. Much of the imagery in the scrims that wriggled with computer animation was drawn not from Scotland but from the stained glass and Gothic architecture of late medieval France, notably the nave and vault of Chartres and the flamboyant style of the Sainte-Chapelle. Any possible scariness of some of the centeral witches, supernumeraries who wore two-faced masks with long gray hair, was undermined by the general concept of the coven, costumed in white with parasols, beach balls, and veiled hats. Were they witches or extras in The Great Gatsby, or perhaps they were reusing the props and costumes of the chorus in Democracy from 2005? Where were the croquet mallets?
The Witches in Macbeth, Washington National Opera, photo by Karin Cooper
The Washington National Opera's production of Macbeth has performances remaining on May 14, 17, 20, 23, 29, and June 2. It is the final opera of the company's season, so it is time to start thinking about next year's operas (.PDF file).