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Verdi, Giuseppe - Macbeth [2 DVDs]
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Dmitri Tcherniakov, der russische Meisterregisseur, überrascht mit einer Deutung von Verdis 'Macbeth', den er auf die Bühne der Oper von Novosibirsk brachte. Von dort fand die Produktion ihren Weg an die Pariser Bastille-Oper. 'Diese Verdi-Oper hat es mir nicht leicht gemacht. Lange Zeit habe ich sie einfach nicht verstanden. Und nie hätte ich gedacht, dass ich sie eines Tages inszenieren würde. Zugegebenermaßen hat mich das Angebot, Macbeth auf die Bühne zu bringen, im ersten Moment ratlos gemacht. Doch jetzt, nachdem ich mich voll und ganz darauf eingelassen habe, wühlt mich diese Oper zutiefst auf.' Dmitri Tcherniakov
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Hier entkernt der Regisseur Macbeth von der geschichtlichen Ebene, entmystifiziert ihn durch einen neuzeitlich, örtlich begrenzten Schauplatz, der die Plattform eines von der Personenführung glänzend gemachten Interaktionsdramas abgibt.
Moderne Kostüme des Alltags bestimmen die 0ptik, es wird das Grauen des Alltags in der Mitte der "Normalität" inszeniert. Diese örtlich, neuzeitliche Fixierung steht oft diametral zum Libretto. Die Wahrnehmungs- und Bewertungsebenen der Jetztzeit sind einfach zu wenig Libretto kongruent. Jedenfalls aus meiner Sicht. Das muss nicht generell der Fall sein, bei in die Moderne assoziierten Konzepten. Letztlich ist das natürlich subjektiv in der Wertung, wo die Grenze verläuft.
In einer hierarchisch gegliederten Gesellschaft einer Kleinstadt platziert sich das facettenartig, charakterspezifisch aufgeschlüsselte Geschehen. Es gibt bei Tscherniakovs Konzept kein schwarz und weiss, sondern die Ambivalenz der Charaktere. Der Zuschauer soll bewußt mit dieser Ambivalenz konfrontiert werden.
Die Stärke dieser Inszenierung ist die schauspielerische Interaktion, die "Schwäche" die historische Entkernung, die Distanzierung von der mystischen Ebene.
Singschauspielerisch ist diese Inszenierung gekennzeichnet durch sehr gute schauspielerische Leistungen, während die rein sängerischen aus meiner Sicht so zu werten sind.
Violetta Urmana als Lady Macbeth für mich von der Timbrestruktur nicht affin, aber das ist Geschmacksache.
Dimitris Tiliakos singt einen schauspielerisch überzeugenden Macbeth, mit "rauhem" baritonalem Timbre, Geschmacksache.
Solide, Stefano Secco als Macduff und Alfredo Negro als Malcolm.
Ferrucio Furlanetto als Banco, wie immer eine ausgezeichnete Besetzung.
Teodor Currentzis dirigiert.
Diese Inszenierung kann alle begeistern, die das Hauptaugenmerk auf die interaktionistisch schauspielerische Gestaltung legen. Wer das so sieht, kann zu einem anderen Urteil kommen.
Mich hat Tscherniakovs Don Giovanni sehr überzeugt, dieses Macbeth Konzept wenig, weil es aus meiner Sicht zuviel der Grundsubtanz des Stoffes weg inszeniert und zudem die sängerischen Leistungen mittelprächtig sind.
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Verdi's opera has been transplanted to what I believe is the mid-20th century. Half of the scenes take place in a sparely furnished drawing room with a chandelier and fireplace, the other half in a sort of town square under a streetlight. Google Earth projections cover the transitions. There is a strong basic concept: evil and good are not overtly distinguishable; they coexist and intermingle in a mass of ordinary humanity. There is nothing at all threatening or strange about the witches or assassins; they are just faces in a crowd of ordinary, multicultural citizens (and there are some great faces here among the choristers and supers). The Macbeths are seemingly innocuous upper-middle-class strivers within a corrupting system. Lady M is intriguingly conceived as a childless middle-aged woman who endearingly directs her maternal impulses toward her husband and others in whom she senses need, trivial or otherwise -- she hypocritically draws Duncan's mourners to her bosom, and is even adjusting the doctor's collar and tie in the sleepwalking scene. Once her part in the drama is done, Macbeth, deprived of his mother/"fixer" figure, is notably disheveled, and sings the final act sans pants, with much of "Pietà, rispetto, amore" delivered from a fetal position on the dining-room table.
Like many mod Regietheater practitioners, Tcherniakov seems distrustful of stagy conventions such as the aria as a private outpouring. So, for example, the news contained in Macbeth's letter of Act I Scene 2 is delivered in person by the man himself, who remains onstage for the Missus's "Vieni t'affretta." As often when this kind of change is perpetrated, I felt it was just trading one brand of clunk for another -- since Lady Macbeth's aria is now aimed *at* him, the baritone has to stand around and perform an awkward dumb-show, furiously shaking his head "no" and so on. When we reach the point where his traditional entrance occurs at "Oh, donna mia!" for the first "real" husband/wife scene, Tcherniakov has already burned through a lot of his leads' interpersonal repertoire, and so everyone is locked into repetition. Similarly, Banquo and Fleance are on stage for the assassins' plotting in Act II Scene 2; the former hears everything and plays the scene as though he wants to believe he is being harmlessly teased, but is beginning to realize otherwise. It is an interesting choice, but the execution is clumsy, and some bumpy video editing in the actual murder sequence does not help (throughout the opera, there are distracting lapses in the shot-sequencing and rhythm).
Tcherniakov's most successful emendation is his staging of Verdi's (intentionally, I think) insipid march heralding the arrival of King Duncan. Rather than a simple royal procession across the stage, we get a view through the Macbeths' picture window of a little unscripted sketch. An actor whose appearance and mannerisms suggest a bantamweight Mussolini plays Duncan, delivering inaudible dialogue and acting the part of the puffed-up bad guest to the hilt. He makes what probably are demeaning remarks, removes Lady Macbeth's glasses and struts around wearing them, juts out his jaw and laughs loudly at his own jokes. The Macbeths and Duncan's royal entourage respond to this with the kind of stiff bearing and forced smiles one sees when an obnoxious boor's position and influence dictate obeisance. Far less effective, and the low point of the whole undertaking, is Act IV Scene 1, for Macduff and the refugees. The scene may have survived the conceit of everyone clutching one salvaged possession (a deer head, a butterfly collection, et cetera). It may even have survived the idea of having the tenor sing "Ah, la paterno mano" in a playpen filled with toys (yes, I get that his children have been murdered and this playpen is the cherished thing he managed to take with him, but would he actually be *in* the thing, looking like a 40-year-old baby?). But it can't survive all of that *and* the risible slashing/fist-pumping gestures the chorus is asked to carry out in "La patria tradita." I'm stumped as to whether Tcherniakov was trying for parody there, or he, like his Lady Macbeth, has a compulsion to straighten collars and fix ties whether they need it or not. I tend to suspect the latter. It also must be said that this director seemingly cannot abide quiet, or resist an opportunity for extraneous noise. Among several examples: In the masterly concertato that follows the discovery of Duncan's body, he must puncture one of Verdi's silences with the loud sobbing of some old lady (is she supposed to be Mrs. Duncan?), and he tops that by concluding "Ove son io?" with Macbeth running around the town square repeatedly firing a pistol.
Since her early-aughts gear-change from mezzo to soprano, I have usually found the Lithuanian Violeta Urmana to be a hard-working, reliable, but unexciting singer who has all the notes but not much flair. Such was the case with her Aidas at the Met and La Scala as well as the Florence Leonora (FORZA), all on DVD. This Lady Macbeth is in a different league. It is one of her best performances, and one of the best reasons to see and hear this MACBETH at least once. Tcherniakov's domesticated notions for the character work wonderfully with the singer's low-wattage temperament, and her singing as such is accurate, powerful, and stylish. It is probably intentional that she is so unflatteringly costumed: appealingly homey early on in her cardigan, glasses, and tortoise-shell hair clip, but later packed into a too-tight "elegant" evening dress, and still later performing the sleepwalking scene in carelessly buttoned pajamas and the silk top hat with which she had performed conjuring tricks during the Brindisi. Baritone Dimitris Tiliakos sounds a size too small, but muscles a more effective Macbeth out of his pretty lyric baritone than we might suspect initially, and certainly acts the part well. Ferrucio Furlanetto is a luxurious Banquo. Stefano Secco's tenor is somewhat short of the goods that would be required to make a strong impression given the unfortunate staging of his big number. Yuri Kissin doubles, excellently, as the Servant and Medic, and Letitia Singleton makes a lovely Dama, on whom the video director understandably lingers a lot.
Maestro Teodor Currentzis, also still in his 30s, gets exceptional work from the Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus -- driven yet nimble, angular in line and vibrant of color. His performing edition interpolates Macbeth's swan song "Mal per me" from the 1847 Urtext before returning to the 1865 revision for the stirring final chorus of liberation. This goes against the composer's wishes, but gives us an opportunity to hear a quality solo absent from most of the audio and video performances of MACBETH.
OK, can't wait to see this one. One day it was on my library shelf, I borrowed it, watched it twice and simply, was bowled over. And I'm usually not too fond of "Eurotrash" or whatever you want to call controversial, novel opera interpretations. Well, when you have such compelling acting and singing, even from the outstanding Paris Opera Chorus, combined with electrifying conducting from Teodor Currentzis - whether inspired by Verdi, Tcherniakov or whatever - it goes a long way to making this performance in my view, extremely moving.
Tcherniakov updated the opera to modern suburbia, with all the houses looking the same. Scenes are either in an inner courtyard or inside a house. With Macbeth a universal story, this does not bother me, when it is so well done. Tcherniakov has a penetrating mind with strong ideas and psychological insights about the opera. He makes the drama very real and emotionally compelling. Not much is subdued yet it is not overdone either. Here are real flesh and blood people acting out the drama in Tcherniakov's idiosyncratic way. I found it gripping.
When the crowd is plotting Banquo's murder, he is surprisingly right there, with people mockingly pointing at him, jabbing sardonically at his ribs, as if there's nothing he can do about it. There isn't, of course, and the idea that he knows what is coming adds a poignancy, an extra level of drama that is compelling. The processional march of King Duncan is never seen; instead of viewing the usual trite display of pomp and ceremony we see an unctious Duncan being hosted by the Macbeths and a group of political sycophants. This makes somewhat banal music match the goings on in the Macbeth's house, and strengthens the entire scene with some delicious sarcasm.
The sledgehammer pounding on the walls and destruction of Macbeth's living room in the finale are startling and extremely effective. His world has indeed crumbled. During Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking scene, she is dressed in pyjamas and a top hat. It may sound silly but with such concentrated acting it works marvelously. OK, so the witches with their facial hair - always a difficult group to depict - are portrayed by modern women in their coats and dresses. It mildly bothered me at first but I got used to it; it fit with Tcherniakov's ideas. Unibrows on the Barcelona Macbeth may be more authentic but it didn't sway me any more than this. The 2007 Met DVD even sees the witches as bag ladies.
Lady Macbeth is expertly portrayed by Violeta Urmana. She has all the vocal goods for the part and produces a smooth, even sound with vocal resplendence throughout the role's range. Through Tcherniakov's idea of the character, Urmana seems decidedly more at home as a dominating hausfrau than she has on less compelling lead portrayals in Un Ballo in Maschera and La Forza del Destino on DVD.
Dimitris Tiliakos bring his warm, inviting, somewhat light baritone to Macbeth and gives a rich, unmannered portrayal, with expressive eyes and strong acting. The final scene finds him at times rolling around on a small round table in his living room, dressed in underwear, a crumpled, unbuttoned white dress shirt, loosened tie and sports jacket. Sounds uninviting? Well, this isn't the proverbial walk in the park. Somehow it fits and it works. He has lost his marbles and it is very evident here. We are made uncomfortable as we should be.
Furlanetto may have hated the production, but he is a consummate pro and plays along with what Tcherniakov wants, in addition to singing superbly. When his murder is being plotted right in front of his eyes, Furlanetto's bloodless expression and chilling body language are marvelous; his sense of tragic confusion and loss masterfully elevates the scene.
The chorus has a significant role in Macbeth, and here they are extremely evocative, adding layers of meaning and richness to the drama. How naturally and comfortably they all look and act. Gone here are the days of the immovable, stagnant chorus giving a uniform, choir-like performance devoid of drama. During Macduff's public grieving over the loss of his wife and children, OK, he is in a playpen, and yes, this sounds silly. Somehow, not only does it work and make more than a semblance of sense (he has indeed lost his family) but the strong acting and genuine grieving of the community - the chorus - adds reality and immense power to the scene. Ironically, one quick glance here finds a man eating a sandwich. We all grieve (or don't grieve) in our own way. But we don't always act the same. More reality here.
Some other novel ideas (or quirks to the unconvinced) are the many scenes being framed onstage by a large rectangle, only occasionally seen on the video. Watching this on my TV gave it a second frame, and curiously, added focus to the drama. I could imagine at the Paris Opera feeling that this helped concentrate the action. Another different idea I was less fond of was the mesh net in front of seemingly most scenes. This is not at all the sharpest of pictures (at least on the DVD I saw) and you can occasionally even see the net. I would have liked more visual clarity and brilliance. The google earth views from afar zooming directly to the town where the action takes place are curiously, both mildly distracting and slightly inviting. They neither add nor subtract to my impression of what I'm seeing. I got used to them.
Conductor Teodor Currentzis is a new name to me. He is chief conductor of the Novosibirsk Opera, which co-produced this with the Paris Opera. His direction is dynamic, full of detail, nuance and thrust. Crisply led with outstanding orchestral execution, this is as well conducted a Macbeth as I have heard. Please more Verdi (and Russian opera) from him.
An all-out winner then. Take note: the Metropolitan Opera has engaged Tcherniakov to make his Met debut, directing Prince Igor in spring, 2014. This will be simulcast on Saturday, March 1. It should be interesting, to say the least.