Sunday, July 19, 2015

Macbeth at Glimmerglass

On Friday I happily made my annual trek to Cooperstown, NY, to the Glimmerglass Festival. I'll be here for about six days, enjoying the excellent operatic and vocal offerings while Glimmerglass celebrates its 40th season. I write every year about how fond I am of this Festival and how impressed I am with the productions I see here.

Eric Owens and Melody Moore
Photo:  Karli Cadel
Glimmerglass Festival
Friday night I saw the new Glimmerglass production of Mr. Verdi's Macbeth, and was blown away by the singing. Eric Owens was an outstanding Macbeth, always present with vocal power and tone and total commitment to the character. Mr. Owens portrayed Macbeth's conflicting emotions—ambition, greed, indecision, guilt, terror—to great effect, and he was more than equal to the role's strenuous vocal demands. Macbeth's death aria was particularly effective. (Having also seen Mr. Owens as Filippo in Don Carlo quite recently, I can say this is no surprise.)

Melody Moore, whose Senta in the Glimmerglass production of Der Fliegende Hollander we praised highly two years ago, again deserved high praise as Lady Macbeth. The role requires a voice that is large and warm, but one that can move and trill, and Ms. Moore did not disappoint in any way. Her opening aria, Vieni t'affreta, was powerful and glorious, and her Brindisi was full of Lady Macbeth's contrived joy. The end of the sleepwalking scene was magical.

Melody Moore
Photo:  Karli Cadell
Glimmerglass Festival
Rising young bass-baritone Solomon Powell was a rich and sonorous Banquo. We look forward to hearing great things from him. (Please do look at this video of Mr. Powell in action!) Glimmerglass Young Artist Michael Brandenburg was a worthy Macduff, and Glimmerglass Young Artists Marco D. Cammarota a pretty damn good Malcolm. Joseph Colaneri led the Glimmerglass Festival Orchestra in a well shaped and rousing performance.

This production was updated to the early 20th century, “in a world that is both recognizable to us now but also removed from us,” to quote director Anne Coates's note in the program. This might surprise regular readers, but the updating didn't bother me. I say this for two reasons: first, the story of Macbeth is timeless, so that it can afford a little flexibility in setting; and second, the directorial concept didn't seem to depend heavily on period detail. The visuals, especially the costumes, were quite handsome, whereas traditional productions of the Scottish play often feature somewhat drab visuals. (Set and costume design by James Schuette and Beth Goldenberg, lighting by Robert Wierzel, hair and makeup by Anne Ford-Coates.)

I'd recommend seeing this opera at Glimmerglass, if there are tickets available. And seeing everything you can at Glimmerglass.

Photo:  Karli Cadel, Glimmerglass Festival
Can't resist another plug for Overlook Mansion, the B&B where I've stayed numerous times over the years in nearby Little Falls.  Click the link and give them a look!

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