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Marching on through Verdi’s operas, this series comes to Macbeth, yet again filmed at the Teatro Regio in Parma. This is definitely one of the hits of the series. Leo Nucci’s Macbeth is often described as veteran, which rather dismisses his musical and dramatic insight and his sense of Verdian line. Sylvie Valayre’s Lady Macbeth is equally accomplished, smilingly vicious and vocally thrilling to the very top of her range. Roberto Iuliano and Enrico Iori provide good support as Macduffand Banquo, and Bruno Bartoletti is authoritative in the pit. Liliana Cavani’s production is strong, her stage-on-the-stage set magnifying and scrutinising the Macbeths’ moral descent.

Suddenly the series swings away from Parma, and we find that Alzira is filmed in concert at the Alto Adige Festival in Dobbiaco. Even Verdi dismissed Alzira, and this poorly sung performance certainly won’t assist its reputation. Apart from Gustav Kuhn’s taut conducting, it is best to draw a veil over proceedings. Even the singers’ mothers will probably find an excuse for not purchasing a copy.

Moving swiftly on to sunnier climes, we come to I masnadieri filmed at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. Suddenly everything shifts up a gear. This is an exciting performance. Gabriele Lavia’s steampunk production is stylish and plays up the violence and tension that underpin the opera. Nicola Luisotti’s conducting does likewise, as he is sharp and authoritative but also allows the music to breath naturally. The cast is excellent. Aquiles Machado is an outstanding Carlo; his tenor has the heft for the role, but he’s not afraid to step back and spin a refined vocal line. Likewise, Lucrezia Garcia has just the right voice for Amelia; ample and beautiful tone, accomplished coloratura, and the ability to ring the maximum effect from the long vocal phrases that Verdi wrote and embellished for the role’s creator, Jenny Lind. Their Act III duet is a highlight. Artur Rucin´ski’s Francesco is a portrayal that threatens to go over the top, but his febrile performance and lithe, high baritone are very convincing. As Massimiliano, Giacomo Prestia is somewhat more earthbound but secure.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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