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Macbeth Critics

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I enjoyed this performance immensely.
I enjoyed this performance immensely. The lighting scheme, design details, strong musical qualities and theatrical immediacy made the two hours fly by. Much of this success was undoubtedly due to Musical Director and pianist, Philip Voldman, whose sterling accompaniment was startlingly alert to the dramatic intent and mood of each scene. Voldman needed every ounce of his considerable stamina and skill to galvanise the entire cast to aspire so high. Primary school children attending the schools’ matinee performances may find that a lot is demanded of them, however, given that there is no interval. But, once again EPOC and the students of CSM have shown that opera does not need grand budgets to reach out to its audience: just passion, resourcefulness and creative discipline.

Designer Rosemary Elliott-Dancs’ Banquet Scene was an arresting coup de theatre. Equally entrancing and chilling was the appearance of the Apparitions. Musical standards were high too. The star of the show was Anna Gregory’s Lady Macbeth. Gregory has a glossy tone, but she was not afraid to risk the occasional stridency to suggest the emotional extremes which fuel Lady Macbeth’s treacheries and lust. Gregory demonstrated considerable vocal power and control: trills were crisply executed, pitch was well-centred through even the fiercest runs, and the tone was appealing and bright.

Claire Seymour Opera Today

Vibrant performances and imaginative design
The audience was very much a family one, with lots of children running around the cafe area before hand, and as far as I could see remaining entranced throughout the production.

Watson … was thrilling and mesmerising. Singing with lovely evenness of tone and a ringing top, with no sense of strain the bass-baritone really took control of the role and made me long to see him performing to in a larger scale version. A big man, Watson knew when to do nothing on stage and he has a powerfully expressive face which he used to the full. His English diction was clarity itself.

Anna Gregory's Lady Macbeth was as compelling partner in crime. Gregory has a large, gleaming spinto voice and clearly has a future in the dramatic soprano repertory. Like Watson, she really took control of the stage and formed a power duo with Watson.

We found much to enjoy in the production … there was a lovely feeling of imagination and practicality in all of the designs and this, combined with the gripping performance from the leads, produced a memorable afternoon in the theatre.

Robert Hugill – Planet Hugill

Enthrallingly Atmospheric
It was never less than an enthrallingly atmospheric setting for director Paul Featherstone’s spare and forthright unfolding of Shakesperare’s plot as adapted by the original librettist Francesco Maria Piave.

Keel Watson is a wonderfully reliable Verdian and he was a tense, brooding Macbeth always trying to internalise his emotions but never succeeding. He is physically imposing, prowled around menacingly and dominated proceedings with his darkly toned bass-baritone that swelled very impressively when intensely angry or in totally despair. Simon Wilding almost matched him in the smaller role of the Banquo, Macbeth’s sincere close friend who is destroyed by the machinations of the Macbeths, and his final aria was serious and sincere. Wilding’s final aria was suitably full of apprehension at what fate had in store for his character. Anna Gregory is clearly an experienced soprano with a powerful – if occasionally strident and unruly – voice but Lady Macbeth is a fiendish role for any singer.

One of the highlights for me of this performance was the participation of the enhanced EPOC Community Chorus numbering nearly 40. Macbeth has a number of stunning set pieces and the demands on the main principal singers is immense but Verdi typically gives the chorus plenty of substantial singing to do. When called upon they came into their own especially in Act IV with some heartfelt singing of the two choruses Patria oppressa (‘Down-trodden country’) and La patria tradita (‘Our country betrayed’).

Jim Pritchard - Seen and Heard International

Banquo’s Ghost scene