Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Verdi - Macbeth / Paskalis Barstow Morris Erwen Pritchard Glyndebourne Opera|
Actors: James Morris, Kostas Paskalis, Keith Erwen, Josephine Barstow, John Pritchard
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Verdi's 'Macbeth' from Glyndebourne 1972
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 03/17/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There are DVDs or VHSs of three productions of Verdi's 'Macbeth' available and none of them is entirely recommendable. That goes for this production as well, but it does have a lot going for it. The sets, costumes and lighting are excellent, effectively pointing up the darkness of Shakespeare's tragedy. The scenes with the witches are pretty spooky, too. And there is no silly updating of the plot--it takes place in the eleventh century just as it's supposed to. (The version with Thomas Hampson from Zurich is in modern dress and that's pretty distracting.) Musically this production is quite good. John Pritchard leads the London Philharmonic who respond with alert and rich playing. It features some really quite remarkable singing from Kostas Paskalis as Macbeth and the 25-year-old James Morris as Banquo (what a shame he gets killed off in the second act, eh?). Paskalis is not the most skilled actor but he does manage to convey Macbeth's mental torment as the opera proceeds and his arias are not only beautifully sung but moving as well. The lyrical tenor of Keith Erwen as Macduff is put to good use in his wonderful Act IV aria. The young Josephine Barstow (about thirty in this production and possibly in her first big role) is variable. At times she is thrilling--as in the sleepwalking scene, 'Una macchia è qui tuttora'--but in the earlier scenes when she is pushing her husband over the brink, she is a rather too hammy actress (and her long-faced, lantern-jawed resemblance to the Margaret Hamilton's Wicked Witch in 'The Wizard of Oz' is hard to ignore). Still, she sings better than the squally Mara Zampieri in the Berlin/Sinopoli DVD. James Morris in his first appearance at Glyndebourne is sensational in his Act II aria.
'Macbeth' is sometimes referred to as Verdi's 'chorus opera' and indeed the Glyndebourne chorus is something special. One gets goosebumps when they sing 'Patria oppressa' (so very reminiscent of 'Va, pensiero' both musically and textually) that opens Act IV. And when they represent Birnam Wood marching on Macbeth after that they act well, too.
The bottom line: This is probably the best 'Macbeth' among the currently available contenders. It conveys the mounting tragedy convincingly, has more than passable singing, has excellent staging, and serves Verdi's intentions well. It would have been better if Paskalis and Barstow had been more effective actors, but one can't have everything. Still, it does make one wish Callas's portrayal of the role was available in modern sight and sound.
Sound - PCM stereo - is excellent; it does not sound dated at all. Occasionally the singers (especially Barstow) are covered by the orchestra. Subtitles in English, German, French, Spanish. TT=126 mins.
Superb 'Macbeth' from Glyndebourne
Gerard Fagan | Dublin Ireland | 06/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The 1972 'Macbeth' from Glyndebourne is a strong contender among the DVD versions of Verdi's opera. The sets are effective in conveying the bleak desolation of Scotland as Verdi and Shakespeare saw it. Kostas Paskalis sings strongly as Macbeth even if his acting is not of the oscar-winning variety. Josephine Barstow is a ball-breaker of a Lady Macbeth,whom I for one would not fall foul of. Keith Erwen and james Morris fill their roles decently and the singing and orchestral playing cannot be faulted. The Berlin version with Bruson and Zampieri remains my number 1 choice but Glyndebourne is a worthy 2nd choice."
Sound and Fury
David Cady | Jersey City, NJ USA | 01/09/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is an atmospheric, if drab, production, with two powerhouse performances to recommend it. Paskalis is a superb Macbeth, virile, meglomaniacal (when he's not being just plain maniacal), with a robust, rich voice. Barstow's performance is a little raw, a little forced, but her commitment to the role is nothing short of remarkable. There's fine support from a young(ish) James Morris and tenor Keith Erwin. Pritchard keeps things moving admirably, more so in the chorales that end Acts 1 & 2. All in all, this is as fine a "Macbeth" as you're likely to find on DVD at present."
R. Luce | Fresno, CA USA | 02/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD is not only the best MacBeth available, it has excellent sound as well."