|I was privileged to be in the audience last night for
Anthony's operatic debut. He played Macduff in Verdi's Macbeth here in Dublin's
National Concert Hall where there was a full house. I won't outline the story as I'm
sure most people are familiar with the Shakespeare play upon which the opera is based.
The production by Lyric Opera was semi staged. With the orchestra in the pit
it was performed on a raked stage with minimal sets. Just a couple of trees to
indicate a wood, throne to indicate hall in castle etc.. the props again were minimal.
Some banners to indicate the army, goblets at a feast, one or two knives or swords
where needed. Costumes were in the same mould. The large chorus were dressed all in black
as were the male principals. Kings etc.. wore a simple white cloak and crown to
indicate rank and Macbeth himself a more ornate robe etc....Anthony and the other Thane
Malcolm wore thick black roll neck sweaters over which they wore broad black buckled
leather belts with black trousers and ankle boots.
It is a long opera. Four Acts with a total of 9 scenes. Anthony did not sing on his first entrance which was in the 2nd scene of the 1st Act. He just appeared as part of King Duncan's retinue. From then on he made a number of appearances mostly with Malcolm (the second tenor) but also Banquo (the bass). He did sing in these pieces and there was a particularly good ensemble piece at the end of the 2nd Act.
All the principals were good. Agooshah Golesorkhi the Iranian Baritone who played Macbeth - his singing and acting were excellent. The Russian bass Stanislav Shvets who played Banquo particularly impressed me. He is due to play Angelotti in Tosca in San Francisco in the near future and is well worth seeing.
Anthony had one big aria in the opera. This came in the 1st scene of the 4th act. Macbeth has had all of Macduff's family murdered and in this aria Macduff mourns the loss of his wife and children. For this scene the chorus were around the stage in dejection at the slaughter. The two small boys lay on different parts of the stage, among other bodies, in white t shirts smeared with blood . Macduff (Anthony) enters through the crowd to discover the bodies of his sons. As he sang of his sorrow as he moved from one child to the other. sitting, at one point, beside the body of one child holding his hand and then laying his head on the dead child's chest. He had to sing part of the aria in this sitting position (not easy!). Anthony's acting was excellent. He conveyed Macduff's sorrow wonderfully well. At one point lifting the hand of one dead child, kissing it and holding it to his cheek. Anthony got a great reception for this aria but in true operatic fashion most applause during the night was saved to the end of each act. Anthony appeared again to join Malcolm (duet) who has raised an army to march against Macbeth.
The final scene of the opera again featured Macduff. He confronts Macbeth in the castle. Both armed with broadswords. The sword fight was short and acted out in slow motion. Macduff knocks the sword from Macbeth's hands and then as Macbeth is helpless Macduff raises the sword over his head and brings it down with great force killing Macbeth. Again Anthony's acting in this scene was excellent. Particularly the look of hatred on his face as he delivered the blow killing the king who had massacred his family.
The production got a wonderful reception form the audience as it was a magnificent evening. Each principal taking their bow was eagerly applauded. The Macbeth received the longest and loudest reception of course as it is "his" opera and he had sustained a wonderful performance. However earlier when Anthony took his bow he got an extra special reaction form the Dublin audience who, very aware it was his debut, cheered him loudly. He was very please and from then on smiled and grinned throughout the rest of the bows which were many.
Lyric Opera are to be congratulated on staging this opera and the wonderful standard of the production. They are bringing us La Traviata in October which is sure to be a big success as well.