Macbeth from Mtsensk. Amsterdam 2006. Production: Martin Kusej. Cast: Eva-Maria Westbroek (Katerina), Christopher Ventris (Sergei). Conductor: Mariss Jansons with the Concertgebouw. Further information here.
A winner from start to end: Martin Kusej´s 2006 Amsterdam production of Lady Macbeth from Mtsensk, which will play at the Paris Bastille Opera in January 2009. I simply cannot imagine a better performance of this opera.
First of all, this is one of Martin Kusejs best stagings: He digs deep into the socio-politic aspects of the work with stark white/dark abstract sets. His (and Shostakovich´s ) sympathies clearly lies with Katerina, a woman literally trapped behind bars in a quadrangular glass structure at the center of the otherwise completely dark stage. Kusej strips the work from all excesses to reveal the naked emotional core. Quite an accomplishment. And moving as well as eerie. Not to mention the most convincing realization of the sex scene between Sergei and Katerina: By stroboscopic lighting, the scene becomes both realistic and eerie as opposed to semi-stupid.
Mariss Jansons connection with Shostakovich is obvious from bar one and the performance from the Concertgebouw is simply shattering.
Eva-Maria Westbroek is a wonderful Katerina, stunning acting and highly expressive singing in a performance I cannot imagine bettered. Partnered by Christopher Ventris, who makes the most out of his immensely unsympathetic signature part.
There really is no competition for this Lady Macbeth on DVD. The only live alternative is Stein Winge´s production from Barcelona, vastly inferior both in terms of production and musical execution.
45 minutes excellent bonus material including interviews with Martin Kusej, Jansons and the protagonists.
Highly recommended. One of the overall best opera realizations on DVD.
Eva-Maria Westbroek and Christopher Ventris:
The bottom line (scale of 1-5, 3=average):
Eva-Maria Westbroek: 5
Christopher Ventris: 5
Martin Kusej´s production: 5
Mariss Jansons: 5
Overall impression: 5
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