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Thread: Macbeth at the Staatsoper Unter Den Linden, Berlin, Germany

          
   
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    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Macbeth at the Staatsoper Unter Den Linden, Berlin, Germany

    Macbeth by Giuseppe Verdi at Staatsoper Unter Den Linden, Berlin, Germany


    This review is for the performance of 29 June, 2018. Macbeth is a new production that premiered on 17 June - this was the fourth performance of the series.


    Conductor: Daniel Barenboim
    Director: Harry Kupfer


    Cast

    Macbeth: Placido Domingo
    Banquo: Kwangchul Youn
    Lady Macbeth: Anna Netrebko
    Chambermaid: Evelin Novak
    Macduff: Fabio Sartori
    Malcolm: Florian Hoffmann
    Arzt: Dominic Barberi

    Macbeth is a new production this season in the newly renovated (at some Euro 300 million) Staatsoper Unter Den Linden opera house. The opera house opened in 1742 as the court opera house and experienced renovations periodically throughout its history.

    I was impressed immediately by the elaborate stage machinery. At the end of scene 1, the entire stage was raised into the fly and replaced by a second complete stage with scenery in place. The Kennedy Center can only dream... Also impressive was the stunning quality of the rear projection that, when the curtain opened, revealed very realistic, sharply defined fires burning in the distance - sort of a huge GIF of the fires and accompanying smoke. I thought it was jaw-droppingly good.

    The production itself is modern, but kind of a mishmash of different periods and styles of military uniforms. As the opera opens, a woman walked across a stage filled with dead bodies, carrying a sword. The uniforms varied from looking like retreads of the SS to WWI doughboys to banana republic get-ups filled with gold braid and medals. The opening set was minimalist with sparse furniture in interior scenes, backed up with an open steel frame as a window wall looking over various scenes projected on that fabulous scrim. The scene change when Banquo is dispatched was to a construction site dominated by huge hanging scoop off a ground excavator. The chorus was gathered at the site and Banquo was bashed on the head.

    Macbeth has a number of large, stirring choruses. The blocking, throughout, was well-thought out and seemed natural and was consistent with the plot.

    Anna Netrebko’s Lady Macbeth’s opening aria was spine-tingling good and she was in great voice throughout - as satisfying as I’ve ever seen her. She was so dramatically intense and appeared to be enjoying herself that I think she must be making Lady Macbeth a signature role.

    About Placido Domingo. Berlin loves - loves - Placido. I thought he sang reasonably well enough, though he seemed to run low on juice toward the end of Act II and his voice came across as somewhat worn and inflexible - he has to make an effort, and the character Macbeth has to be on stage for much of the opera. I would prefer to see a younger ‘true’ baritone in the role as I found Domingo distracting - I remember him too well in his prime as a tenor and, at age 77, it is no surprise that his age is showing. In his full ‘king’ regalia military uniform, I thought he resembled Generalissimo Francisco Franco.

    Fabio Sartori’s Macduff got off to a bit of a rocky start as he attacked his aria in which he announces his determination to avenge the deaths of his wife and children at the hands of Macbeth. He warmed up as he sang and ultimately earned accolades from the audience. The comprimario roles all were well cast and well sung.

    In all, an excellent production of a wonderful opera in a mostly superb performance.

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    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    This is one I started watching but then - Plac came out, sounding particularly tenorial and looking too old to be a soldier - and I just thought life is too short! If I want to see Anna on my laptop I'd rather rewatch the Met one (different in the house, I know)
    Natalie

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    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    This is one I started watching but then - Plac came out, sounding particularly tenorial and looking too old to be a soldier - and I just thought life is too short! If I want to see Anna on my laptop I'd rather rewatch the Met one (different in the house, I know)
    I wish he would retire while he still has some dignity. Macbeth should be sung by a proper baritone or nothing.
    "Every theatre is an insane asylum, but an opera theatre is the ward for the incurables."

    FRANZ SCHALK, attributed, Losing the Plot in Opera: Myths and Secrets of the World's Great Operas

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    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    This is one I started watching but then - Plac came out, sounding particularly tenorial and looking too old to be a soldier - and I just thought life is too short! If I want to see Anna on my laptop I'd rather rewatch the Met one (different in the house, I know)
    Hi Nat, You are exactly right. I noticed his natural tenor voice trying to get out - hearing him in this fach, despite his strong effort, is disconcerting. I remember seeing him as Otello some 30 years or so ago, and he truly commanded the stage.

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    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Clayton's Avatar
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    Even with Generalissimo Francisco Franco running low on juice, I would love to be there in the newly renovated opera house and see this production. How's the bar? Do they serve sausages there? This is important information.

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    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clayton View Post
    Even with Generalissimo Francisco Franco running low on juice, I would love to be there in the newly renovated opera house and see this production. How's the bar? Do they serve sausages there? This is important information.
    Alas. I arrived in Berlin two weeks ago and my hostess took one look at me and declared that both of us were starting a diet. It’s a low-glycemic diet heavy on protein, so, fortunately, sausages are (sort of) allowed on the diet, but I am watched closely so have not been able to venture into the mouthwatering looking space in the lower level of the Staatsoper labeled „Konditerei“.

    I can, however, highly recommend the German Mineralwasser.

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    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoffmann View Post
    I can, however, highly recommend the German Mineralwasser.
    I feel that that is a bit of a sad sentence for a holiday....
    Natalie

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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoffmann View Post
    Alas. I arrived in Berlin two weeks ago and my hostess took one look at me and declared that both of us were starting a diet. It’s a low-glycemic diet heavy on protein, so, fortunately, sausages are (sort of) allowed on the diet, but I am watched closely so have not been able to venture into the mouthwatering looking space in the lower level of the Staatsoper labeled „Konditerei“.

    I can, however, highly recommend the German Mineralwasser.
    Well, no worries. I gained weight too but the Countess is not with me in this trip, so I'm splurging. I'll report on the "Konditerei" offers when I go to the new house on July 8 and 9...
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); July 5th, 2018 at 08:07 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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