A new production of Verdi's Macbeth opened at Seattle Opera on May 6th. The director was Bernard Uzan, his work on Tosca at San Francisco certainly was different. The Tosca production was pretty, but somewhat boring. This Macbeth is both ugly and boring.
Robert Israel's set was a silver room with three doors and a balcony that could be hidden. There were various ruins strewn about, and these were manipulated by the witches. The stupidest part of the opera was when blood started dripping from one of the panels of the room, predictably, for Lady Macbeth's mad scene. Mats had been carefully placed on the floor where the blood dripped, so when one panel started dripping, the audience could see just where the next blood streams would appear. Israel's costumes were pretty dull, a lot of tartan, except for the witches, who seemed to be dressed as either brides or widows from different eras, with some red shoes or gloves for good measure.
Gordon Hawkins was adequate in the lead role, he had sung the night before and Louis Otey was set to sing for our particular performance, but he took ill and was replaced at the last moment. Elena Zelenskaya was a cold Lady Macbeth, her voice is icy. The cast was all fine, but not particularly exciting, with the exception of tenor Joseph Calleja as Macduff. He was the only voice that stood out and his brief aria in Act III was the high point of the performance.
It was a bit surreal to hear the famous lines of Shakespeare being sung in Italian, for some reason Otello doesn't bother me as much as Macbeth as an opera. Also, much of the music in Act I and II struck me as inappropriately gleeful.