LA Opera Macbeth with Plácido Domingo

Macbeth (Placido Domingo, right) battles it out with Macduff (Arturo Chacon-Cruz, left) in the final scene of "Macbeth." (Photo: Karen Almond / LA Opera)
Macbeth (Placido Domingo, right) battles it out with Macduff (Arturo Chacon-Cruz, left) in the final scene of "Macbeth." (Photo: Karen Almond / LA Opera)

Guest post by Robert Leeburg

Though I have been privileged to enjoy a number of great opera performances over the years, I must admit to having been particularly motivated to attend L.A. Opera’s much anticipated new production of "Macbeth" in order to experience the work of a true "rock star" of the opera world: Plácido Domingo.

And he did not disappoint.

In the lead role of Macbeth, Mr. Domingo sang with a voice both surprisingly youthful and supple. Though known throughout his career for his soaring tenor vocals, Domingo used the lower, darker baritone notes of this role to express a deep sense of torment and guilt. As a member of the audience, I felt simultaneous and conflicted feelings of horror and empathy toward the character.

I was also struck by the beautiful tones and harmonies created by the blending of Domingo’s voice with that of Ekaterina Semenchuk, playing Lady Macbeth, in stark contrast to the dark, sinister content of their words.

Aside from the standing ovation for Mr. Domingo and company at the end of the performance, the most enthusiastic applause of the night came in reaction to Macduff’s aria during the final act, performed by Arturo Chacón Cruz. Cruz delivered a heart-breaking crescendo of anguish and grief over the brutal murder of his wife and children that moved many of us in the audience to tears.

The most memorable and unnerving element of this production for me was the portrayal of the witches, a key element of the story. Dancers with long rat-like tails crept and crawled stealthily around the stage during the witches’ scenes, climbing up the walls of the sets and perching like gargoyles to hold a menacing vigil over most of the performance.

This new production of "Macbeth" is engaging and accessible, as is Verdi’s score, making it an ideal introduction for those new to opera.

Editor’s Note: Robert Leeburg is a Los Angeles resident and opera fan. In this article he has captured his thoughts on the wonderful production of Verdi’s opera Macbeth presented by the LA Opera. He saw the production on 9/21 with Arturo Chacón Cruz as Macduff and Joshua Guerrero is currently playing the role.

One additional note: both of the singers alternating in the role of Banquo are Italian: Ildebrando D’Arcangelo and Roberto Tagliavini.

Placido Domingo (center) in the title role of LA Opera's 2016 production of "Macbeth." (Photo: Karen Almond / LA Opera)
Placido Domingo (center) in the title role of LA Opera’s 2016 production of "Macbeth." (Photo: Karen Almond / LA Opera)

As Robert mentions, there is an interesting interpretation of the witches in this production. Here are some links with more details about this feature of the production:

– Blog post about the witches: http://blog.laopera.org/macbeth-witches-not-ordinary-witches/

– Interview with Suttirat Larblarb, the costume designer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy7AckMwreI

– "Behind the Scenes" page : http://www.laopera.org/From-Sketch-To-Stage/Macbeth/

For more information on the Macbeth production: http://www.laopera.org/season/16-17-season/macbeth/

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