Rizzo Reviews: Macbeth

Courtney Rizzo, MBA Class of 2015

Excitement in the Rizzo Reviews world this week – it’s the first opera of the season! Call it “The Scottish Opera” if you are the superstitious type and are reading this aloud in a theater, but otherwise you can just call it Macbeth, Verdi’s take on Shakespeare’s classic. Coming from the bright midday sunlight into the Metropolitan Opera, an unsettling mood is achieved with slight movement in the moon projection on the curtain. After a spot-on overture, the curtain goes up to reveal a leafless forest with a concave top and a rounded floor that add something ritualistic to the spectral setting. The witches are designated not by costumes, but by a weird movement vocabulary. It made me uncomfortable watching them twitch about, but I think that was the point.

The casting was luxurious all-around, but the one who keeps the dramatic action going is Anna Netrebko, a singer who has built her stardom on opera’s most well-known heroines and is now moving into weightier roles. She clearly delights in playing the power-hungry, devious Lady Macbeth. She sounds ravishing and, with her blond wig let down over a busty silver nightgown, received more than one excited “Brava!” from the opera-matinee-aged men sitting around me.


In an effective (if used-before) convention, the design of the murderous tale is in dark, muted tones so that each victim’s red blood is emphasized. Also, Lady Macbeth is a lady in red when presented as the new queen, but is downgraded to a tarnished pale frock as she is brought down by a mad neurosis in an especially captivating scene from Netrebko.

It was only fitting to have such a stage presence in this role, as it is said that behind a great man is a great woman. Here, of course, great is used in the infamous sense. From Lady Macbeth’s early declaration that “the way to power is full of crimes,” to her power couple scene where she appears in a pantsuit, Lady Macbeth calls the shots—and the stabbings—and her only demise is the workings of her own mind.


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