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Robert Farr
MusicWeb International, December 2013

There have been several modern video recordings of this, Verdi’s first Shakespearean opera. However, many are at the apex of what I dislike the most, with caravans and the like to go along with modern clothing and including that in the Tutto Verdi series. The Glyndebourne Festival had much to do with the Verdi renaissance in Britain and of this opera in particular. Dating back to 1972 this performance is in period costumes and sets. The scene of the passing of the Kings remains imprinted on my visual memory as if it were yesterday! It is particularly well sung and acted and now at bargain price. © 2013 MusicWeb International



Henry Fogel
Fanfare, November 2013

I had reasonably high expectations when I put this on, because of the standards one normally associates with the Glyndebourne Festival. Those expectations were not only met but in most ways surpassed by a gripping and terrifically sung performance.

Based on her performance here, at the age of 31, I would have pegged Barstow for a level of major international stardom in the dramatic soprano repertoire that she never quite achieved. This realization of one of Verdi’s most difficult and taxing roles is as good as it gets. She manages the coloratura with no sense of laboring, her top notes are free and wide open, and the quality of the voice perfectly conveys the hardness of the character without ever turning unpleasant on the ear. Her face is extremely expressive and her overall acting is very convincing.

Kostas Paskalis is a tremendous Macbeth. Paskalis, particularly in the banquet scene, is utterly convincing. The voice is firm, terrifically focused, and…is capable of the full range of dynamics from a ringing, full-throated fortissimo to a whisper.

The young James Morris is a huge plus as Banquo, and the remainder of the cast is excellent. The production is traditional and effective, with sumptuous and convincing costumes. The camera direction is by Dave Heather and is very effective. Heather trusts the music and the artists, doesn’t jump around too often and in fact frequently holds on a shot for a long time, so that the viewer can become absorbed in the action.

This may well be the finest video of Macbeth available. It is hard to imagine a Verdi lover who will not be pleased by this Glyndebourne performance. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review




Robert J Farr
MusicWeb International, October 2013

In this recording from the Festival itself the Greek baritone Kostas Paskalis, much under-appreciated by the recording companies, is a tower of strength. I saw him at Covent Garden as Rigoletto a couple of years earlier with a tenor called Pavarotti as the Duke. Paskalis’s dark strong-toned voice with its chilling call of La maledezione was impressive as was his acting. His vocal skills also impressed me then, and do so again here in this performance. I venture to suggest Paskalis would stand head and shoulders above any so-called Verdi baritone singing today.

Verdi famously said that for the role of Lady Macbeth he did not want a soprano with a particularly beautiful voice. British soprano Josephine Barstow, with her somewhat occluded tone could have been just the voice he had in mind. She colours and shades her singing to bring out the meaning of the words in their deepest and darkest sense. Hers is vocal characterisation, not mere vocal beauty, as it is too rarely heard. Add her considerable acting skills and she is to my mind a nearly perfect assumption of a fiendishly difficult part to bring off.

Glyndebourne was the first British opera company to perform Verdi’s Macbeth in 1937. This production and cast do justice to that pioneering venture.

No producer gimmicks such as caravans and the like mar this earlier traditional production from Glyndebourne. The stage effects, singing and orchestral playing contribute to a thrilling musical and visual performance worthy of the composer’s final version. © MusicWeb International Read complete review






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1:04:06 AM, 22 September 2014
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