Verdi - Macbeth

Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris, Tuesday October 24 2017

Conductor: Gianandrea Noseda. Macbeth: Dalibor Jenis. Banquo: Marko Mimica. Lady Macbeth: Anna Pirozzi. Macduff: Piero Pretti. Lady-in-waiting: Alexandra Zabala. Orchestra and chorus of the Teatro Regio, Turin.

A thrilling Macbeth in concert at the TCE last night, thanks first of all to conductor Gianandrea Noseda. This was probably the most energetic Verdi I ever heard, Verdi exactly how I, personally, like it: vigorous yet crisply detailed and, mostly, fast (“too fast” said a friend at the interval). The “rumty-tum” stuff (Duncan’s march, the start of the banquet…) was extremely zippy and bouncy, Noseda slashing his baton through the air like a riding crop, urging the work forward. You could see orchestra members enjoying it: swaying along, smiling and tapping their feet. But orchestra and chorus were nevertheless in full control (detailed, as I said) and expressive, capable of extraordinary dynamic range (amazing rustling pianissimi from the strings, for example), combining Mendelssohnian verve with Verdian fire. And, not fast at all, “Patria Oppressa” was magnificent (admittedly, it usually is).

The audience caught the buzz immediately, and Anna Pirozzi’s “Vieni! t'affretta!” was met with loud cheers and applause. Hers is an expressive, “falcon” type voice with considerable agility – useful in this role, of course: she nailed the twiddly bits. Not huge, but a decent Verdian size. Not totally easy at the top. Perhaps she unwisely shot her bolt in the first aria: she seemed to grow slightly (only slightly) less impressive as the evening went on, and the killer penultimate note of “Una macchia” was not a beautiful sound. Meanwhile, the extraordinary Dalibor Jenis, already subtle from the start (looking exactly like a rock star with his craggy face, long hair, open shirt, shiny jacket, glittering brooch and skinny black jeans) seemed to get better and better. What a range of colour, starting from black, what a gorgeous, smoky, boxy mezza-voce and what a finale!

Piero Pirozzi was, as I wrote afterwards in a message to a friend, a bloody good Verdian tenor. Alexandra Zabala made her small part worth hearing. Marko Mimica has a huge bass baritone voice. He’s young and (though he was in the final of “Cardiff Singer of the World” in 2013) probably needs more coaching both in vocal line (singing a tune) and acting. If he gets it, with his marketing-friendly looks, he might go far, even if, as the BBC put it: “It's tough to be a handsome young man fated by voice type to play old men and priests.”

To give an idea of the tempi, the concert started at 7.30 PM and was over by 10.05, including an interval of 20 minutes. An exciting evening. I thought of a recent thread about "the perfect opera" on a well-known forum. At this level, Macbeth seemed to be one. And once again, I didn’t miss the staging for a second.


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