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"Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble..."

Macbeth has his eyes on the Scottish throne, and his ambitions are outweighed only by those of his wife, the bloodthirsty Lady Macbeth.

As the doomed couple, baritone Thomas Hampson and soprano Nadja Michael deliver the vocal fireworks of two of Giuseppe Verdi’s most challenging roles, Hampson for the first time at the Metropolitan Opera and Nadja Michael in her company debut. Gianandrea Noseda conducts his first Met performances of Verdi’s darkly stunning work, adapted from the Shakespeare tragedy of the same title. Tenor Dimitri Pittas reprises his performance as Macduff, seen in the 2007 premiere of Adrian Noble’s production, and bass Günther Groissböck sings the role of Banquo. Macbeth will be heard live over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network. View the photo gallery above to see images from the Met's production.

One of the musical high points of Macbeth is the part played by the chorus members. In Shakepeare's version, three witches raise their prophecies, warning Macbeth to beware of Macduff and assure him that “no man of woman born” can harm him. Verdi asks the chorus as a whole to cast their spell. Another frequently excerpted passage is the famous Chorus of Scottish Refugees, "Patria, oppresa." For Verdi, it was a subliminal message in support of Italian independence.

Oppressed land of ours! You cannot have
the sweet name of mother
now that you have become a tomb
for your sons.
From orphans, from those who mourn,
some for husbands, some for children,
at each new dawn a cry goes up
to outrage heaven.

 

The Met's synopsis will guide you through the plotline, and following the Met's broadcast, host Bill Richardson will speak with Pulitzer prizewinning writer Garry Wills about parallels between Shakespeare and Verdi.

Last season, The Royal Opera House produced a blog post that's well worth visiting: Macbeth, Verdi, & Shakespeare: 10 Things you might not know.

Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, with host Bill Richardson
Saturday March 24, 2012 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. (2:00-6:00 AT, 2:30-6:30 NT) on CBC Radio 2.

Related links

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Verdi's Macbeth, Live from the Met

"Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble..." Macbeth has his eyes on the Sco…

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Lev Bratishenko
#1 posted by
Lev Bratishenko
on Mar 22, 2012

Reviews of Nadja Michael have been mixed. It would have been nice to hear what you thought.

Matthew Baird
#2 posted by
Matthew Baird
on Mar 22, 2012

Actually I haven't heard Nadja Michael's performance myself, as this broadcast takes place Live on Saturday! You are correct in that some of the early reviews have been critical of the casting. However we wouldn't presume to pre-judge a show, based solely on the initial reaction. So tune in and and feel free to contribute your thoughts after the broadcast.

brunnhilde
#3 posted by
brunnhilde
on Mar 24, 2012

It's a good thing Verdi's music and character writing is so brilliant in this opera.  Even Hampson and Michael couldn't completely overcome his genius.  I think it might be a good idea for Hampson to retire this role.  He simply is not a Verdi baritone.  He alternated between singing it like lieder and singing it like verismo.  "Pieta, rispetto, amore" is pure bel canto.  Barking your way through it is not going to make your voice sound bigger.  And Michael!  How did someone that incompetent get hired for one of the world's premier opera houses?  Did she manage to get through one phrase on pitch?  One might think it was just an off day, except that her reviews have been less that stellar.  It would appear to be yet another case of casting for looks rather than voice.  All in all, an irritating afternoon at the opera.

brunnhilde
#4 posted by
brunnhilde
on Mar 25, 2012

"Good try" shouldn't be the criteria for a performance at the Met.  It should be the benchmark for opera performance.  let Ms. Michael learn how to sing in some small town in Europe.  If I'd just spent $500 (US!) on a ticket, I'd be storming the box office to get my money back.  And I don't think it has anything to do with her switch from mezzo.  Check some of her videos, and you'll see that she has NO technique, no bodily support of her voice, which is why her face evinces such tension.  I've never seen anything so amateurish on a prefessional stage!  It doesn't matter how the white satin clings, opera deserves better.  Certainly Verdi does.  "Bel canto" means "beautiful singing" and you can only do that with healthy technique.

brunnhilde
#5 posted by
brunnhilde
on Mar 25, 2012

To clarify:  when I said "it" should be the benchmark for opera performance, I meant the Met.  It makes me angry to see this kind of casting.  Opera is a music art form, not primarily a visual one, and to see casting choices being made for telegenic, rather that musical, motives, makes me feel cheated.  And I'll bet the composers would feel the same way.

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