The Witches from KY Opera’s Macbeth.
By Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Francesco Piave
Directed by Keturah Stickann
Conducted by Joseph Mechavich
Review by Annette Skaggs
Entire contents are copyright © 2015 Annette Skaggs. All rights reserved
You know the story. Macbeth and Banquo happen upon a coven of witches who reveal that Macbeth shall be king and Banquo the father of kings. As this prophecy is shared Macbeth learns that he is indeed next in line. When his wife, Lady Macbeth, learns of Macbeth’s ascension, a plot is hatched to hurry the wearing of the crown. Upon the carrying out of the dubious deed, the Macbeths begin a dizzying ascent into madness and death.
If you are familiar at all with Verdi’s work, you know that he wrote three of the most performed Shakespearean operas in all of Opera repertoire: Otello, Falstaff and Macbeth. As a fan of the works of Shakespeare and of Verdi, I have to say between Piave’s libretto and Verdi’s score; I look at the story of Macbeth with an even deeper appreciation of the complexities that are the title characters.
Kudos to the production and artistic team of the Kentucky Opera for recognizing and instilling that focus. From building a visually stunning stage with minimal furniture and props, to the use of video imagery projected onto the scrim that adds nuance and background and for finding the voices that tell the story so well.
As Malcolm, King Duncan’s son, Joshua Wheeker made the best use out of very little stage time. The same can be said of Greg Turay’s Macduff, whose aria Ah, la paterna mano, filled with sorrow and the want for vengeance, was brilliantly delivered.
Soloman Howard. Your Banquo was commanding and eerie and the aria Come dal ciel precipita was stunningly beautiful and haunting.
The stunning and deadly Lady Macbeth was played with voracity and vivaciousness by Lyne Fortin. This is a role meant for a dynamic and dramatic soprano, who isn’t afraid of letting her dark side out. As this is not Ms. Fortin’s first Lady Macbeth, I can only imagine what she can be when it is her 100th time as she truly envelops the diabolic, loving, and emasculating Lady. Her Or tutti, sorgete reveals a dark and ominous insight into just how far she will go to get what she wants, while on the other end of the spectrum, her haunting Una macchia è qui tuttora! makes one almost feel empathy for the blood thirsty Queen.
Baritone Gregory Dahl embraced the role of Macbeth, truly wrapping himself into the complex character as well as the complex music. As he is afforded some of the more lush melodies of the Opera, he offers them to us with honesty and dexterity. With his Mi si affaccia un pugnal?, Mr. Dahl had firm command of his purpose and destiny. Cielo!, Macbeth’s final decree, is delivered with anguish and resolve.
I have to hand it to the coven of witches. They worked quite a spell on the Thomson Smilie stage. Dressed in what looked like burlap and wearing branches as headdresses, they slithered and stooped, writhed and withered, as they sang the visions of Macbeth’s future. Despite some phrasing that didn’t pop out as cleanly as I would have liked, I give credit to their artistry and talent. Also, to the gentlemen of the chorus, you delivered some of the lushest notes of the evening.
Congratulations to director Keturah Stickann for providing a stark and thought evoking look into the complexities that inhabit the “Scottish Play”. Also, great job to Josette Miles and Alice Baldwin for their choice of wardrobe and props. Although, I will ask Josette, where was the tartan?
In closing I would like to congratulate Maestro Joe Mechavich; first, for your work with this performance directing our fabulous Louisville Orchestra, and second, for accepting the call to be Kentucky Opera’s new Artistic Director. I can only imagine the heights that you will take the Kentucky Opera on…furthering the legacy that the late David Roth started while of course, plotting your own.
September 18 @ 8:00pm
September 20 @ 2:00pm
W.L. Lyons Brown Theatre
315 West Broadway
Louisville, KY 40202
For tickets: 502-566-5111
Annette Skaggs is a heavily involved Arts Advocate here in Louisville and freelance professional opera singer who has performed throughout Europe, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Boulder, Little Rock, Peoria, Chicago, New York and of course Louisville. Aside from her singing career she has been a production assistant for Kentucky Opera, New York Opera and Northwestern University. She has a 25+ year knowledge of the Classical Arts.