The title that dare not speak its name — PLEASE!
By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel
Verdi’s MACBETH is not among the greatest operas ever written nor is it on the list of Top Ten Verdi Favorites. Second ring? Also-ran? Not important. Nevertheless, this production, currently owned by SF Opera and available through December 2nd, offers illustrious baritone THOMAS HAMPSON in the title role. Debuting in 2001 with Mr. Hampson as part of the package, the work is the collective odyssey brainchild of ZURICH OPERA. As directed by David Pourtney, designed by Stefanos Lazaridis, and costumed by Marie-Jeanne Lecca – this ignoble whack at MACBETH was secured by San Francisco Opera “AS IS”. Aye (yi-yi), there’s the rub. No refunds. This Swiss turkey is full o’ holes.
The infamous Sleep-Writing Scene of Lady Macbeth (Georgina Lukács)
THOMAS HAMPSON – Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
Fear not! Given General Director David Gockley’s agenda for boosting the Company’s revenue and making SF Opera periodically free throughout its Season – the recent simulcast of SAMSON & DELILAH at AT&T Ballpark being an Arts & Techno coup – one cost-retrieving action and boon to the operatic world at large would be to take the whole package – including the sheet music, its oh-so-avant-garde sets, wily Swiss couture, bottles of bubbles, roller derby/neo-nazi uniforms, green-ooze for blood substitutes, the portable vintage typewriter standing-in for Shakespeare – and haul it over to Civic Center Plaza for a huge Pre-Holiday Garage Sale. Much of the memorabilia will be tagged, “Thomas Hampson slept here.”
Georgina Lukács (Lady Macbeth) & Thomas Hampson (Macbeth)
AT THE CAWDOR MALL – Take it away
As Lady Macbeth, aka, Queen Gruoch (just a few swirls away from “Gooch” and “Groucho”), Hungarian soprano Georgina Lukács has portrayed the conniving queen at Royal Opera, Covent Garden, the Edinburgh Festival, Canadian Opera Company, and at the New National Theatre in Tokyo. The role is indeed difficult, requiring the cannon blast of a dramatic soprano who can toss out a bit of razzle-dazzle coloratura. Ms. Lukács is suitably efficient with a great figure to boot – in black pumps. Within the first few moments of her entrance, whoever sings “Lady Macbeth” must sail up to an unhesitant High C. With a long and heavy-duty S&M-type belt hooked onto her waist (in case she let the queen out) Georgina delivered the “Vieni t’affretta” (“Come quickly”) cavatina and “Or tutti, sorgete” cabaletta from the rooftop of her glass-enclosed and mirrored lair-of-lust studio/cubicle overly brightened by too many #7 Snow White Specials. C’mon, you guys! The probing depth! The double fortes and straddling of Mr. Hampson, and his royal torpors and mood swings, the faux witch drag and several guys in stiletto heels, girls in white dresses with Birnam Wood tree branches, and all that homegrown Zurich compost right there for the taking – all in just three life-robbing hours! The applause meter occasionally rose to “He-ey!”
WILLIAM PICKERSGILL – get your redhots
Every agent of every performer knows – it’s not about where you’ve done the role, but THAT you’ve done the role. Mexican lyric tenor Alfredo Portilla (as “Macduff”) grabbed the spotlight long enough to deliver an authentically Italian piece of goods with his spot-on “Ah, la paterna mano”. A much sought after romantic lead, Portilla will be appearing as “Cavaradossi” (TOSCA) in Provence and then on to Rome as “Don Jose” (CARMEN). Raymond Aceto (as “Banquo”), a frequent guest at the Metropolitan, flaunted his authoritative bass voice in “Come dal ciel precipita” – a somewhat thankless aria in which the future father of Scotland’s kings accuses Macbeth of treachery. Noah Stewart (as “Malcolm”), last seen as “T. Morris Chester” in APPOMATTOX gains another worthy supporting role on his growing résumé. Although Mr. Stewart tends to be rather frozen-faced and rigid, the young tenor’s voice is thriving as an Adler Fellow.
NOAH STEWART (Malcolm), ALFREDO PORTILLA (Macduff), RAYMOND ACETO (Banquo)
Conductor Massimo Zanetti makes an impressive debut in his first assignment at San Francisco Opera. Hailed for his proficiency with the Verdi repertoire, he recently conducted LUISA MILLER at Bavarian State Opera and DON CARLOS for Berlin’s Linden Opera and the Dresden Semperoper. He is scheduled to conduct LUISA MILLER at Paris Opera and LA TRAVIATA at Bavarian State Opera.
MASSIMO ZANETTI, Conductor — GIUSEPPI VERDI, Composer
Visit Seán on YouTube: SAMSON & DELILAH – Meet Seán Martinfield
See Seán’s recent articles and interviews:
THE OLD MINT – Breathing New Life Into “The Granite Lady”
NO SUCH THING – World Premiere at NEW LANGTON ARTS
THE COLOR PURPLE – Musical Excellence At The Orpheum
JENNIFER SIEBEL – A Conversation
MARIE ANTOINETTE’S PETIT TRIANON COMES TO SAN FRANCISCO
MAGIC FLUTE – Entrancing Make-Believe at San Francisco Opera
APPOMATTOX – A Flag–Waving Victory for San Francisco Opera
SAMSON AND DELILAH – L’Amour et Glamour On the Re-Bound at SAN FRANCISCO OPERA
SWEENEY TODD – Sheared Ennui At A.C.T.’s 41st Anniversary
THE SCULPTURE OF LOUISE NEVELSON: Constructing a Legend
A CONVERSATION with JIM BROCHU and STEVE SCHALCHLIN – “The Big Voice: God or Merman?”
An Interview with PASCAL MOLAT, Principal Dancer of the San Francisco Ballet
Seán Martinfield is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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