Verona:”Macbeth” (alternative cast)

Vona, Teatro Filarmonico, Stagione lirica 2012 /2013

Melodramma in quattro parti di Francesco Maria Piave dall’omonimo dramma di William Shakespeare. Edizione Edwin F. Kalmus&Co., Inc.
Musica di Giuseppe Verdi
Lady Macbeth
Medico/ Araldo DARIO GIORGELE’
Domestico di Macbeth/ Un sicario SEUNG PIL CHOI
Orchestra, Coro e Corpo di Ballo dell’Arena di Verona
Direttore Omer Meir Wellber 
Maestro del coro Aldo Tasso 
Coordinamento regia, scene  e costumi Stefano Trespidi 
Regia video Amerigo Daveri
Coreografia Maria Grazia Garofali 
Luci Paolo Mazzon 
Nuovo allestimento
Verona, 21 dicembre 2012

Anyone who thinks that the Maya Prophecy didn’t eventuate, wasn’t in Verona on 21st December at the  fourth performance of Verdi’s Macbeth by the Fondazione Arena at the Teatro Filarmonico.
Down-sized from the announced Liliana Cavani and Dante Ferretti production, the opening opera of the centenary season, entrusted to the head of production of the Fondazione Arena, Stefano Trespidi, looks as if it is mounted on a shoe-string budget and is conceived as a rehearsal; work in progress, a play within a play. The confusion of technical staff  and chorus milling around the platform which is meant to represent a stage, and the comings and goings of the soloists on and off the platform, in and out of the roles, where the murdered, resuscitate and are given a glass of water, where the chorus master, the choreographer, the director and the costumist  participate as themselves, makes it difficult for the viewer to suspend reality and be carried away into the world of the supernatural and Verdian drama.    Director, assistants, and stage-hands wander around the stage, consulting notes, making adjustments, instructing the performers  thereby detracting attention and tension from the drama. When, at the beginning of the third act, the curtain didn’t rise and the orchestra was left to play on alone until it ground to a halt, and the director announced flatly that there was a technical hitch, the audience couldn’t be blamed for thinking that they really were attending a rehearsal!
With the exception of three floor-length, low-cut dressses for Lady Macbeth, one black, one white and one red, reflecting her state of mind in each particular situation, the rest of the company is dressed informally in black.  A mixture of old film clips of Macbeth by important directors, Welles, Polanski, Kurosawa, juxtaposed with live filming of the protagonists in close up, both on and off stage, by an on-stage cameraman,  are projected onto a large screen.  This technique worked best in the close ups of the soliloquies, focusing attention on the expressivity of the soloist or as remembrances of past things , but too often the result was affectedness. The staging appears as an allegory of the theatre’s condition: the residue of what has survived the gradual decline of this theatre: musically and artistically impoverished.   There are very few traces of Verdi’s Macbeth. The remarkable musical study of the complete development of  the dramatic and psychological growth of the character of Lady Macbeth and the workings of remorse on Macbeth’s conscience to their final disintergration, through the unnerving sequence of events in the intermediate scenes are foiled and lost.  The dramatic tension is dissipated. The thrust is slackened by the meaningless meandering of characters in and out of their roles.
The vocally unruly women’s chorus shrill, flat in the top notes taken from underneath,  rather than reflecting  the characterization of witches, seemed  simply to be giving full vent to uncontrolled singing. Unconvinced and unconvincing they wandered aimlessly around the platform-stage, or sat and reclined around it, watching distractedly, uninvolved in the action taking place there.  The dancers, with twenty minutes of ballet music and a full stage at their disposal, were confined to marking time and writhing in a centre-stage cage. Embarrassingly boring.  At last, at the beginning of the fourth and last act, in the famous and well sung chorus ‘Patria oppressa’, the production, with the full height of the  stage hung with looped ropes, seemed to have found an effective and confident vision. This was a momentary lapse, although the last act, including an effective sleep-walking scene, was musically the tightest.
Welber’s modest reading was competent but undistinguished. His first lost occasion in the elegaic, cantabile of the preludio, which anticipates the introduction to the sleep-walking scene,  was completely lacking in  pathos.  Disappointing too, were the desultory accents in the chorus ‘Patria oppressa’,  lacking the lean and weight of the ‘appoggio’ which endow them with their wailing effect. The reiterated harmonic suspension-resolution scheme was not exploited to create appropriate musical and dramatic tension. Notwithstanding the bland  conducting the orchestra demonstrated clean and solid playing and great sensitivity in accompanying the vocal line. As the opera progressed this care and attention became more evident. In fact, on the whole,  the orchestra was well-balanced in timbre and dynamics both internally and in relation to the stage, and provided the production with one of the few elements of undisputed professionalism and artistic dignity.
The second cast put to a severe test in very exacting roles, aquitted themselves admirably. Marco Vratogna’s  round burnished timbre, homogenous and even  from top to bottom, with an effortless emission was a congenial vehicle to express Macbeth’s  introspection and torment. A greater dynamic contrast and a more emphatic delivery at climatic moments would have provided a stronger dramatic impact.  Tiziana Caruso’s Lady Macbeth was dramatically convincing and in the vocally demanding and impervious role managed commendably.  Particularly effective in the spoken word, the voice in the upper registers was not always focused  making comprehension of the text arduous.  The surtitles were a very useful aid generally. The sleep- walking scene, performed in the centre aisle of the stalls was handled convincingly both vocally and dramatically, taking advantage of  the great freedom of movement and expressiveness provided by Verdi. The final ‘fil di voce’ high D flat at the end, floated in to great effect from the foyer.  Francesca Micarelli, as the Lady-in-Waiting, was a luxury as a comprimario. Her strong, round voice was firm and even and endowered her scene with presence and expressivity.  A worthy performance by Roberto Tagliavini of Banquo, was evidenced in one of Verdi’s finest bass arias ‘Come dal ciel precipita’ and Alejandro Roy’s rendered a forceful  Macduff in the  beautiful aria ‘Ah, la paterna mano’.  The cast was completed with Giorgio Misseri as Malcolm, Dario Giorgelè as doctor and herald, Seung Pil Choi as Macbeth’s servant and the murderer,  and Alberto Testa, Vittoria Sancassani and Seung Pil Choi as the apparitions. At the end of the evening, the hundred odd spectators  apparently made up mainly of friends, family and  followers applauded enthusiastically amidst the flyers floating down in pure risorgimento style from the balcony. Photo Ennevi