Review by Kody Dahlke, Special to the Sybaritic Singer
Macbeth is a haunting opera that dives deeply into the theme of corrupting power. Telling the story of a noble general who descends into madness after a prophecy that foretells his future drives him to seek power through treachery and murder. The haunting stage pictures that appear throughout the production and the performance by the cast and crew make this chilling classic come to life and show the depths of despair to which a noble man may fall while pursuing a life of unchecked ambition.
Opera Tampa’s April 2018 production of Verdi’s Macbeth in the Straz Center’s spectacular Carol Morsani Hall was a very powerful and haunting performance that brought new energy to this standard operatic work. In recent years, Opera Tampa has stepped up their game bringing in talented performers to perform these great works with a lot of success. The cast marvelously drew the audience into the performance and reacted to each other quite authentically.
Mark Rucker as Macbeth was brilliant to watch as his character devolves from a man with great honor to one filled with deep corruption and despair. It was chilling to watch the banquet hall scene when Macbeth cries out, “Va, spirto d’abisso!” in terror at the images of the dead appearing before his eyes as he is trying to enjoy the festivities of his coronation as king. His arias were powerful, and his voice resonated in the dramatically cavernous Morsani Hall.
Jill Gardner as Lady Macbeth gave a commanding performance that was breathtakingly eerie throughout. Her performance was so convincing that it inspires one to loathe her character for corrupting Macbeth in such evil and manipulative ways. Gardner demonstrated incredible vocal control even while lying down prone on the stage. Her portrayal of Lady Macbeth’s descent into madness was equally as terrifying as her manipulation of Macbeth. Her performance was such a pleasure to watch and Opera Tampa’s audience would heartily welcome her back for future performances.
Among the other performances, Cesar Sanchez as Macduff performing his monologue in Act IV, Scene 1 stood out as particularly impressive. Sanchez’s voice highlights the beauty of the Italian language and in his amazing aria he displayed incredible vocal freedom and power. This performance was a treat to watch and made his characterization of Macduff a fan favorite.
Beyond the impressive leads, the Opera Tampa chorus and orchestra gave an incredible performance and were in-sync with the cast throughout. The scenes with the witches were eerie, the performance by Macbeth’s assassins was playful yet sinister, and the scene with the Scottish refugees wailing in Birnam Wood was both chilling and beautiful. The orchestra gave an incredible performance under the baton of Andrew Bisantz and really showed their skill when they maintained perfect unison with Rucker during his aria after Macbeth’s second premonition in Act III.
Opera Tampa adds to its recent successes with a fantastic cast. The company continues to impress the people of Tampa with its dedication to finding talented performers. Their last opera for the 2017-2018 season will be Gilbert & Sullivan’s Trial By Jury, which will be performed on July 21st, 28th and 29th.
Photo credits: (1) Mark Rucker (Macbeth) and Jill Gardner (Lady Macbeth) & (2) Jill Gardner (Lady Macbeth) – Photos by Will Staples
Kody Dahlke is a cellist and writer dedicated to empowering musicians and educators in this new fast-paced digital era. The classical music industry is changing as technology revolutionizes how people experience and come into contact with classical music. Kody’s mission is to help musicians and music educators understand how to navigate and find opportunities in this new era, while at the same time trying to teach people about the wonders of classical music. He currently performs in various music ensembles in the Tampa Bay area including the Same Day Delivery Orchestra, Patel Conservatory Chamber Music Program, and HCC Ybor Community Orchestra. Kody is currently studying for his bachelor’s degree at the University of South Florida.