Magazine article Musical Opinion

Verdi's Macbeth in Holland Park

Magazine article Musical Opinion

Verdi's Macbeth in Holland Park

Article excerpt

The Holland Park Season opened with a telling staging of Verdi's Macbeth that not only laid claim to an X Certificate for its profusion of blood-letting and brutality but also traced the course of an uncommonly intense relationship between Macbeth and his Lady. I attended the fifth performance on 17 June, by which time all was running smoothly, the singers pacing themselves to respond to the score's demands and the City of London Sinfonia revealing the Shakespearean cut and thrust of Verdi's highly theatrical music, with conductor John Gibbons maintaining a taut balance between the stage and the orchestra.

Olivia Fuchs, past master at overcoming the problems inherent in directing anything on the Holland Park Theatre's stage, was assisted by Bob Bailey's set which focused the action in front of a high, white wall and enclosed it between tall metal cages, over which witches and murderers menacingly swarmed. At the beginning it looked coldly clinical, then blood started to trickle down the wall, the flow increasing as the violence escalated until no trace of white remained, making a grippingly gruesome effect.

It needed two strongly theatrical personalities to serve as focal points to such a staging and these were powerfully in evidence. Since I first heard him in the role of Sergeant Sulpice in English Touring Opera's production of Donizetti's Daughter of the Regiment Olafur Sigurdarson's warm-toned baritone has steadily acquired greater amplitude and a richer palette, and he has the advantage of a, suitably burly physique for the role of Macbeth. …

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