Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Can the Devil sing true?

Sun Valley Opera presents ‘Macbeth’ as parts of the MET Live series

Anna Netrebko plays Lady Macbeth, René Pape plays Banquo, and Zeljko Lucic performs in the title role of Verdi’s “Macbeth.”
Photo by Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

For The Express

    Verdi’s game-changing opera, “Macbeth,” is coming to the Sun Valley Opera as part of the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD series. The series presents live broadcasts of plays at The Met in New York City.
    The showing will take place Saturday, Oct. 11, at the Bigwood 4 Cinema in Hailey. Doors open at 10 a.m. Dick Brown, the longtime leader of Caritas Chorale, will give a pre-opera lecture at 10:30 a.m., and the broadcast will commence at 11 a.m. Muffins and mimosas will be provided.
    Mary Jo Helmeke, executive director of the Sun Valley Opera, is excited to start the 2014/2015 MET Live series with Verdi.
    “He was the preeminent opera composer of the 19th century,” she said. “Dramatic expression was his forte. His music is powerful in that he makes his points quickly and viscerally.”
    Brown’s pre-opera lecture will cover Verdi’s love of opera, why the role of Lady Macbeth is such a killer, and how “Macbeth” radically changed the opera genre.
    “Verdi was a master at adapting Shakespeare’s plays; he had a lifelong love of Shakespeare,” Brown said. “In fact, when he died, the only thing on his nightstand was “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare” and Haydn’s “String Quartets.’”
    In this version of the tragedy, Verdi places a lot more importance on Lady Macbeth.
    “She’s really the villain here,” explains Brown, “and so she becomes the manipulator of Macbeth, who really has no spine at all.”
    The New York Times raved about Anna Netrebko’s portrayal of Lady Macbeth in the MET’s production.

Ultimately, the opera is a political drama. But it speaks to today—the corruption of power and the struggle to keep it.”
Dick Brown
Opera aficionado

    “She is a soprano with star power in the best sense, a charismatic expressivity that pervades every element of her performance,” the newspaper said.
    Lady Macbeth is a notoriously difficult role for sopranos.
    The first production of “Macbeth” was a marked change for operagoers of the 1840s. Before this piece premiered, the orchestras acted mainly as accompaniment to great singers. However, “Macbeth’s” orchestra begins to become a character. It’s a very heavy orchestration, and this was Verdi’s first attempt at a grandiose score.
    Composers and musicians alike have long claimed that jumping in with applause can ruin the ambience created by the musicians.
    “In this opera, Verdi begins to do away with the tyranny of applause,” Brown said. “He felt that applause interrupted the drama, so this is more thoroughly composed.”
    At the time “Macbeth” was composed, Verdi was involved in trying to unify Italy. Some of the political overtones in the tunes compare Italy of the 1840s to Scotland in the Middle Ages.
    “Ultimately, the opera is a political drama. But it speaks to today—the corruption of power and the struggle to keep it,” Brown said.
    People who love theater, straight drama or music are a great fit for this audience. Brown and Helmeke hope that patrons will be uplifted by the greatness of this score.
    “The goal with any music is to take a person from where they are when they walk in, to somewhere else when they walk out,” Brown said. “I think this is a good piece for that.”
    All ticket prices have been reduced to $16. Tickets can be purchased at the theater box office.

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