Saturday, the Cinemark Palace theater of the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri joined a network of hundreds of venues around the world screening a live HD video feed from the Metropolitan Opera stage in New York City, of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera, Macbeth, with libretto by Francesco Piave and additions by Andrea Maffei, based on William Shakespeare’s play.
Except for no sound at all during the welcoming comments by the host, mezzo soprano, Anita Rachvelishvili, who will appear in her most well known role of Carmen, the sound worked very well. No explanation was provided for the short audio void, but a patron left the room to summon help, and sound was achieved.
Costuming indicated the 1930s, probably the Spanish Civil War. A continuity issue arose when all of the murders are committed with knives, otherwise, all brandishing is with pistols and machine guns. To change the murders to gun crimes would have required changing the script, which might have caused a planet or two to change course. A constant of the scenery were the trees of Birnam Wood, which are sometimes pillars in the castle, but their foreboding is ubiquitous.
Anna Netrebko’s Lady Macbeth portrayal was over-the-top both vocally and theatrically. Her final aria in the sleepwalking scene was her tour de force, Una Macchia è qui, tuttora, (Out, I say, damned spot). It is the point at which all of the destruction she and Macbeth have accomplished finally works as a boomerang of life and has destroyed this loving, ambitious, conniving, duplicitous, murderous wife (this is Shakespeare, you know). Not only is the singing beautifully powerful, but the emotions and the music fit together to depict the inner destruction brought by evil, that is too easily followed as a life path.
Zeljko Lucic’s Macbeth was fine, the voice was not at its best, particularly in the low register; it sounded driven at times, though that could be characterization. The ten camera production worked well in zooming in to Macbeth’s scowls.
Banquo, as played by René Pape was, again fine throughout his range, but the show was held together by Netrebko.
A joy of seeing a Met production is that all parts are filled by genuine first rank singers. The chorus members are full voiced operatic vocalists and actors; there is no dropping of character, at all. Even a little supernumerary girl in a green coat had an evilly sweet smile as she looked back at the disgraced character on stage.
Roena Haynie said after the show that the sound was actually better than in the $200 dollar balcony seats in New York, where she was for opening night’s production of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, which is on the schedule for October 18th’s Live from the Met presentation.