OPERA NEWS - Macbeth
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In Review > North America

Macbeth

PALM BEACH
Palm Beach Opera
1/24/14

In Review Macbeth PBO hdl 414
Boross and Chioldi in PBO's Macbeth
© Palm Beach Opera 2014

Palm Beach Opera opened its 2014 season with a riveting production of Verdi's Macbeth. In his company debut, conductor David Stern led a beautifully nuanced account of the score, letting Verdi's colorful orchestration inform each dramatic moment. Stern's flexible support of the soloists and chorus allowed the propulsive rhythms to breathe, the horror and suspense to build and the text to emerge clearly.

Bernard Uzan's stage direction kept the primary focus on Macbeth and his Lady, but every character exhibited an individual purpose. The theme of supernatural and psychological horror was set during the prelude, when visions of witches encouraged a young girl to "murder" her doll. Years later, after they appear to the adult Macbeth, he is vulnerable to the suggestions of his wife, now grown, with a sociopathic streak — and still the owner of the doll. Uzan took advantage of the sparse scenic elements to move quickly from scene to scene, often utilizing the front scrim to allow the soloists to confide their intimate soliloquies. Dramatic lighting drove the story, most notably during the battle scene, in which "snapshots" left the violent action to Verdi's music. Hallucinatory flexibility of time and space also permitted Macduff to kill Macbeth in a small pool of light, then have Macbeth revealed on a desolate stage to express the last seconds of his life in "Mal per me," before the scene returned to real time for the final victory chorus.

Leading the drama were Csilla Boross and Michael Chioldi. Together they conveyed a palpable, youthful chemistry and a close interplay revealing seething ambition in their duets. Boross inhabited the character of Lady Macbeth physically and sang with all the colors Verdi required. "La luce langue" was compelling, and the sleepwalking scene was in the grand tradition of mad scenes, prefiguring her imminent death by the hand-rubbing that produced unconscious bloody self-harm. Chioldi, in an impressive role debut as Macbeth, brought warm, rich tone to the role. He fully conveyed the dramatic moments, including a very physical banquet scene, while retaining his lyric line to earn cheers for "Pietà, rispetto, amore" and his bitter final aria.

Sean Panikkar, as Macduff, gave an excellent portrayal of the young, grieving father. His ringing lyric tenor expressed the torment and loss in his aria, then rang out in the rousing call to arms. As Banquo, Welsh bass Richard Wiegold used his distinctive timbre to deliver an affecting rendition of the familiar aria. His sympathetic stage presence made his reappearance as the ghost even more threatening. The Palm Beach Young Artists filled the comprimario roles with distinction. A major element of the evening was the chorus, under director Greg Ritchey. Whether as witches, courtiers, murderers, refugees or soldiers of two armies, they made a strong impression with their musicianship and physical acting. spacer

KARL HESSER

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