29 November 2006 | Gyran
Is this a typewriter I see before me?
The ever-dependable Zurich opera bring to life this Verdi rarity. It is early Verdi so the music is more rum-ti-tum than mature works such as Falstaff and Otello, but it is no less enjoyable for all that. Thomas Hampson brings out the virility and the vulnerability of the title role in an intelligent interpretation. Paoletta Marrocu is a frightening Lady Macbeth. Her voice is slightly on the strident side sometimes, but that is entirely appropriate for the role. The tenor Luis Lima makes the most of the more lyrical music as McDuff.
Piave's intelligent libretto sticks closely to Shakespeare's story. The most noticeable change is that the three witches become a female chorus. They provide the closest thing to comic relief in this work and stage director David Pountney turns them into Zurich hausfraus in his engagingly modern production. They cavort around the stage in curlers and hairnets clutching transistor radios and typewriters. Don't ask me what the typewriters symbolise. Apart from the typewriters, Pountney tells the story very clearly with the mystical and supernatural elements well integrated into the tale of human greed and passion. I liked the male chorus singing Patria Opressa (Opressed Homeland) at the end. It sounds as though Verdi is trying to write a sequel to his chorus of the Hebrew slaves.