It is the second time for the Jean-Claude Auvray version of Macbeth to appear on the stage of the Israeli Opera, the first being 16 years ago. Then it was received with very mixed reviews: some adored it, others completely disliked it. I did not get a chance to see that former production but was always curious to know how the same performance could intrigue such extreme reviews. Now I fully get the dispute and can take very clear sides: I thought it was outstanding.
Some critics hated the stage for being too dark, static and uninteresting. I found it breathtaking, serving the darkest of plots so well and giving room to Kenny MacLellan’s beautiful implementation of Auvray’s interpretation with his set and costume design. The same goes to Avi Yona Bueno’s lighting work.
Verdi’s music and orchestration are enchanting, fortunately there is not much difference of opinions here. So was the performance of the orchestra under the dominant but sensitive baton of Emmanuel Joel-Hornak.
Verdi and his libretto writer Francesco Maria Piave should have given the opera the title Lady Macbeth, because she is the one who receives most of the attention, and in operatic language, most of her own complete arias. The soprano Maria Pia Piscitelli, in her Israeli Opera debut, has a rich dramatic voice and was very convincing in the key role, where she persuades her husband to first murder Kind Duncan and then others down the road. Macbeth was sung by the baritone Lucio Gallo with somewhat less dramatic conviction but with a beautiful and confident voice.
The bass Riccardo Zanellato was an excellent Banco, but MacDuff almost stole his show with a phenomenal performance by the tenor Gaston Rivero. We highly praised his performance in the lead role in Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette just several weeks ago. Once more he indicated clearly that he is a tenor to watch and follow closely in the future.
Special credit must be given to The Israeli Opera Chorus. Verdi has been extremely generous in the role he kept for the chorus, with substantial time on stage. They did a wonderful job, in signing as well as in performing Yoram Karmi’s choreography. The men section was particularly at their best.
Opera is, after all, a performing art that combines very different elements of drama, visual experience and music. Macbeth at the Israeli Opera had it all.