Hilary Finch in today’s Times lauds Simon Keenlyside’s Macbeth at Covent Garden:
“Not until this second revival has the Royal Opera’s Macbeth really discovered its true self. And that’s quite simply because it has finally found its Macbeth. It’s as though Phyllida Lloyd’s bold, confident and compelling production has been waiting all of nine years for the arrival of Simon Keenlyside.
The English baritone, singing on the top of his form, is one of the most complex and complete Macbeths you are likely to experience in a lifetime. Cliché and preconception are swept aside. Keenlyside has penetrated Macbeth’s entire nerve system and the far reaches of his soul as thoroughly as the composer did himself.
This is a world of pre-echoed and pre-ordained prophecies: Macbeth is already washing his hands in the first scene, Lady Macbeth having her bath prepared. And the scarlet turbaned witches both violently and tenderly facilitate every move in this stark black and white world. Keenlyside’s is a long journey — from slightly bent, diffident searcher, already sensitive, in his bleached nocturnal tones, to the awe of the unknown — to false belief which leads to total isolation and loss. You can almost feel his tortured silent thinking throughout. And his great Act IV aria, Pietà, rispetto, amore, is one of the great moments in this opera’s recent performing history.”
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.