Lady Macbeth.......Maria Guleghina
I skipped Macbeth at the San Francisco Opera this season. A huge fuss was made about the fact that Thomas Hampson was singing Macbeth. What do I care who is singing Macbeth. Who is singing Lady Macbeth? I will not sit through another horrible Lady Macbeth no matter what the rest of the opera is like. I thought. One simply doesn't want to cringe through those parts of the opera waiting for her parts to get over.
I was right, of course. One wants a good Lady Macbeth. One wants Maria Guleghina. In the interview at the half she discussed the role. One aria is for mezzo. Another is coloratura. A third is very heavy dramatic soprano. The interviewer asked her what attracted her to the role. I made up my own answer: because she can do it. This may well be the toughest role to cast in the repertoire. Producers would flock to this. Damn, she was good.
I liked everything about the simulcast from the Metropolitan Opera. I liked it all. I was able to see for the first time why Verdi liked Macbeth best of all his operas. He matured and realized that these requirements for a soprano were really impossible to fulfill and never got quite this screaming again.
I liked the dark production. I liked the witches that looked like ordinary people, like people in a Stanley Spencer painting. I could have passed on the little girls spitting. Maybe without closeups. I liked the scene of refugees in the woods, and felt that this treatment justified the modern costumes. We need to feel that it touches our own lives.
I liked Guleghina walking on chairs set down by the witches, though I'm not sure why. I liked the politics. It was gentle and real. I liked the substitute Macbeth, Željko Lučic, who seemed very deep, emotional and tragic. I liked John Relyea enormously, and thought he looked cute in his terrorist outfit.
I was moved and thrilled. This may be the best political Verdi I've ever seen.
Forgive the bizarre photos of Maria Guleghina. The weirder they are the more I seem to like them. When asked how she related to the role, she said she was a normal mother and waved to her kid who was watching in Europe.