When she recoils at the touch of a child, in a revival of Phyllida Lloyd's perceptive 2002 production, it speaks volumes about Lady Macbeth's unwillingly childless state. This flinching contrasts with a luxuriant dream sequence in which delectable babes and toddlers are flown on to the marital bed like a cascade of kittens. In real life, the queen, as she becomes, takes, rather than makes, lives, in pursuit of her husband's glory.
Pirozzi, singing Lady Macbeth in the performance Culture Whisper saw, combines the character's disappointment and chilly sublimation with a lavish musicality that is not always matched by her Macbeth. Serbian baritone Željko Lučić often lurks under the note; the generous-minded will regard this as an indication of his character's weakness.
Walled up in a light-free stone box, a tomb for the living, or trapped in a golden cage, the Macbeths plot their way to the top and to a dazzling range of king bling. Anthony Ward's uncluttered design and Paule Constable's lighting are in complete accord with the clarity of Lloyd's vision. The witches and other observers and enablers flow through the action like the rivers of blood, the witches (Verdi gives us many, not just three) in red turbans and black robes like high priestesses of wrongdoing. 'They are truly a character, and a character of greatest importance,' the composer said.
Macbeth was to herald the richest period in Verdi's great output – Rigoletto, La Traviata and Il Trovatore would follow hard on its heels. And this is a highly recommended entry point to that rich period.
With the Italian bass-baritone Ildebrando D'Arcangelo as Banquo and Antonio Pappano conducting the Royal Opera House Orchestra and Chorus, this revival has a tangible Italianate sense of passion and is thrillingly, unashamedly operatic – it is surprising how many productions shy away from that admirable quality these days.
Whether you catch Pirozzi or Netrebko as Lady Macbeth, listen out for her spellbinding aria La luce langue, which was an addition to this, Verdi’s own 1865 revision of his opera.
Macbeth is sung in Italian with English surtitles. Running time is 3 hours 20 minutes, including one interval. It is relayed to cinemas all over London on 4 April: click here for more details.
|What||Verdi's Macbeth review , Royal Opera House|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
25 Mar 18 – 10 Apr 18, times vary; eight performances
|Price||£12 - £245|
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|