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Verdi: Macbeth [Teatro Regio di Parma] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: LPCM 2.0, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Running Time: 167 minutes
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: C Major
  • Blu-ray Release Date: January 29, 2013
  • List Price: $39.95

Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Performance
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Performance

[Rating:3/5]

Macbeth is considered a “middle” Verdi opera but this is a yes and no proposition. The first version premiered in 1847 but the one that we get to see and hear was the 1865 revised version.  This 2006 Teatro di Parma production is part of this house’s effort to contribute to the entire Verdi oeuvre by the bicentennial of the composer’s birth (2013). For a number of reasons, this opera has never reached the heights of Verdi’s popular masterpieces like Rigoletto, La Traviata or Il Trovatore. Like its counterparts, Macbeth contains magnificent drama and music that opera fans will gladly embrace.

Macbeth begins with a series of unexpected predictions for the title hero by the witches. Macbeth (Leo Nucci) begins to accept a fate that is embraced by his wife (Sylvie Valayre) who urges him on to horrific behavior. For the most, the rest of the opera follows Shakespeare’s original play. The Macbeths murder their way to the throne of Scotland, doing away with King Duncan and Macbeth’s friend, Banquo (Enrico Giuseppe Iori).  Ultimately, Macbeth has a crisis of conscience and his wife loses her mind. The rebellious forces, urged on by Malcolm (Nicola Pascoli), son of the murdered Duncan and Macduff (Roberto Juliano) take on the Macbeths and emerge victorious.

The good news about this production is that the musical forces are under the knowing hand of experienced maestro Bruno Bartoletti. The rest of the news is not so good.  The real star of the show should be Lady Macbeth who has no fewer than four showpiece arias. Unfortunately soprano Valayre’s voice features a rather harsh top, and a limited bottom; her handling of the bel canto passages is frequently awkward. Nucci, a veteran Verdian, was 64 at the time of this production. While he handles the stage business well (this was one of his signature roles) his voice has clear signs of wear and tear.  Major supporting roles of Banquo and Macduff are turned in at no better than a comprimario level by baritone Iori and tenor Juliano.

Video Quality

[Rating:3/5]

Andrea Bevilacquia’s video direction is first rate with numerous tight shots of the principals. This is incredibly important to this work where the drama is generated by internal rather than external conflict.  Coverage of the minimalist staging is good. However, the distance shots are a bit on the soft side with the orchestral pit views downright blurry. Costumes are true to the Shakespearean era rather than the original historical period. Director Liliana Cavani, sets the opera as a play within a play with a two small seated audiences in early 20th century garb on either side of the stage. Rather odd touches are added by having a dwarf in a tailed-costume cavort about the stage on occasion and by transforming the witches in washerwomen.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]


The sound perspective in the DTS-HD Master Audio version is vivid with good balance between proscenium and pit.  The two-channel version is also good although not as spacious.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

The Tutto Verdi series offers a 10-minute synopsis and background data fro each performance which will be helpful to those unfamiliar with this work. We are fortunate that the producers of this Verdi series have seen fit to attach a 10-minute background video for each performance since most viewers will be unfamiliar with such early Verdi works as Giovanna d’Arco. C Major also offers trailers from some of the other Tutto Verdi operas.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3/5]


There are two other BD versions of Macbeth, one of which featuring soprano Violeta Urmana and baritone Dmitri Tiliakos (previously reviewed on this site). While beset with some truly bizarre staging and direction, making this opera look a lot like a domestic sitcom, the singing is uniformly far better than what we get with the present release. However, the palm branch must go to the recently issued Opus Arte BD starring baritone Simon Keenlyside, and one of the best new voices in recent memory, soprano Liudmyla Monastryska as the Macbeths. This Covent Garden production also benefits from the musical direction of Sir Antonio Pappano. Macbeth really rises or falls on vocal cords of the Lady herself. While soprano Valayre looks like one of the most evil Lady M’s that I have seen, her performance is just not up to the level of her competition. It is also a pity that this production was mounted so late in Leo Nucci’s career. All considered, a rather mediocre account of what many consider a true Verdi masterpiece.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Verdi: Macbeth on Blu-ray at CD Universe

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Purchase Verdi: Macbeth on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Performance
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]


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