Verdi – Macbeth / Metropolitan Opera 2008 (3)

(Previous section here.)

The swinging lamp and the feeling of urgency it provides reminded me of one other thing that I noticed about this opera while watching this production. This may be just me, but the whole thing seems to go by very quickly. I don’t mean simply in the sense that it’s a high-quality performance of entertaining music and as a result the time passes easily. I mean that at several points I was thinking – we’re here already? They’re already killing Duncan? And now Lady Macbeth is dead? And now it’s over?

I wasn’t sure what to think of this feeling of speed. I don’t think anything has been cut – if memory serves, this is not a long opera. But short operas can feel big. This short opera just feels like the story is hurtling past at a fairly terrific clip. It’s not that I don’t like it. Macbeth is not my favorite Verdi opera, but it’s fun and the music is exciting, and I like the barnstorming bits. And the pacing certainly works with the feel of the music. The witches in Act I, for example, are not three individuals but a great big dramatic chorus – it’s big and wild rather than creepy (I liked the witches’ handbags, too, that they brandish around. If Margaret Thatcher taught us anything, it’s that you watch out for the ladies with handbags like that).

Eh, I don’t know. But whatever one thinks of how fast the opera goes, I should add that the Met is really in its element with this performance, or so it seemed to me. They tend not to go the super-regie route, and at times they go for boring rather than frighten anyone, but here they’re doing something they do really well, which is mustering some big exciting sounds for a production that is interesting and detailed and well-executed, but not super-abstract or strange.  It works.

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