(The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus, Anna Netrebko / 2-DVD / NR / 2015 / Deutsche Grammophon)
Overview: One of the greatest triumphs in recent MET history, Anna Netrebko's Lady Macbeth is causing a sensation; and is already a performance for the ages. Indeed, this MET performance featured not only an astonishing Netrebko, but also a superstar-cast with artists like Željko Lučić, René Pape, Joseph Calleja and a brilliantly performing MET Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Fabio Luisi.
DVD Verdict: Macbeth was the first opera I ever heard; it was a Met broadcast whilst listening on the car radio whilst driving my sainted mother on various errands. It was a "love at first sight" (or hearing) experience for one who had no previous exposure to either opera or classical music.
Although while I prefer traditional staging, I can accept any valid changes that do not do violence to either the story line or the intent of the composer and librettist. This Macbeth was staged by Adrian Noble, a former artistic director for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
It appears to be set in recent era Eastern Europe is semi modern dress, including firearms rather than swords. Yet it works splendidly! The heart and soul of Shakespeare's play, which so impressed Verdi, remain intact.
And, gentle reader, the singing and the acing must be experienced to be believed! Anna Netrebko does more than "hit it out of the park"; she blasts it into outer space! Lady Macbeth, along with Abagaille (Nabucco), contains some of the most fiendishly demanding music in the soprano repertory. It requires a solid bottom, an extended top, as well as the ability to negotiate some tricky coloratura.
The character herself is a totally evil woman with little "redeeming social value", and as such can be difficult to portray, since most people are incapable of expressing the venomous nature which is Lady Macbeth's. Netrebko is chilling in the role.
Zeljko Lucic as Macbeth also does a splendidly first ate job. His last act aria, "Pieta, rispetto onore" is sung with a delicacy and intensity that is hard to describe. The quality of vocalism and dramatics (even with closeups!) is amazing, even to these experienced ears. Rene Pape and Joseph Calleja are similarly splendid in all respects, of course. So, please rent, or better yet BUT this incredible 2-DVD set of 'Verdi: Macbeth' for yourself, sit back and be prepared to travel into a world quite like you've never experienced before (whether your eyes are open or closed!) This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and includes bonus material with artist interviews and backstage footage.
2 intros / Host: Anita Rachvelishvili
Acts I and II (1:26)
Act III and IV (0:15)
Backstage at the Met with host Anita Rachvelishvili (c. 15 )
Interview: Anna Netrebko (2:19)
Gallery Met Shorts (2:03)
Interview: Zeljko Lucic (1:27)
Interview: Joseph Calleja and René Pape (3:12)
Interview: Donald Palumbo and David Frye (3:02)
Interview: Fabio Luisi (2:28)
DVD Purchase Link