“Macbeth” Makes First Appearance At OTSL With Strong Direction And Performances

mac-king

Photo: Ken Howard

A powerful score by Giuseppe Verdi leads this brilliant production of “Macbeth” at Opera Theatre-St. Louis. This is the first go-round for this opera at OTSL and it makes a big splash with strong voices, magnificent acting and an eerie presence. Having just seen “Trash Macbeth” at ERA earlier, this is a great complement to the lunacy of that production- they both tell the story but both get the Shakespeare tragedy across with a new twist.

mac-witches

Photo: Ken Howard

Conductor Stephen Lord got a grand reception on opening night and it is well deserved for his reputation alone. But he takes the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra to new heights with this unusual but very Verdi score. Roland Wood is a somewhat stoic yet powerful presence as Macbeth. His fine baritone commands the stage from the opening with the coven of witches through his fear at a court banquet when Banquo’s ghost appears into the final battle. Robert Pomakov is a steely and malevolent Banquo. After his death at the hands of Macbeth, he makes an eerie appearance that matches the dark and ominous mood of the play.

mac-lady

Photo: Ken Howard

Julie Makerov blows us away as Lady Macbeth. Her lovely soprano leads the way through her plotting and planning death to her eventual spin into madness. It’s a truly outstanding  performance that shakes the OTSL audience to the rafters. The entire company including the chorus are just magnificent. A beautiful blend of voices combine to make the ensemble pieces simply ring with power and wonderful harmony.

mac-swtd

Photo: Ken Howard

Strong stage direction by Lee Blakeley and choreography by Sean Curran make this a must see of the season. The bloody final battle is very effective. The grim and dark set design of Alex Eales fits the play perfectly and the wonderful lights of Christopher Akerlind keep the dark theme going with spots of hot, white light popping up in many of the scenes to provide startling contrasts.

mac-banquo

Photo: Ken Howard

Verdi’s music is very unusual for such a bloody and brooding play with several lighter interjections among the many appropriate arias and ensemble pieces. But it fits the play so well and transitions the scenes very well.

mac-finbatt

Photo: Ken Howard

“Macbeth” is a worthy addition to the 2016 season offering a classic composer with a classic Shakespeare tragedy to great effect. It plays in repertory with three other operas and has a final performance on June 26th. Contact Opera Theatre-St. Louis at 314-961-0644 for tickets or more information on the season.

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