The warrior Macbeth fights on the side of the King of Scotland – but when a coven of witches prophesy that he shall become king himself, a ruthless ambition drives Macbeth and his wife to horrific acts.
"...Simon Keenlyside makes a fine Macbeth and is both a lyrical and expressive baritone. He has sung Macbeth at the Royal Opera to critical acclaim since 2011. In tonight’s production, he was very much at home in the role and an excellent match for his Lady...."
"...Simon Keenlyside has been associated with this production since 2012, and his return is reason enough to revive it. His voice has clearly matured. It has lost some bloom and colour, but none of the power and focus that make him ideal for the role of Macbeth....Macbeth is an opera that can show off the strengths of a good ensemble, and orchestra, chorus and cast were all on good form – but the evening belonged to Keenlyside, whose performance elevated both the music and the drama...."
"...As her ambitious but guilt-ridden consort, Simon Keenlyside was impressive from the start, deploying a lieder singer’s skills to project a nuanced vocal line that clearly hinted at the character’s psychopathic tendencies. In Act 4 he too surpassed himself. Broken and certainly bloodied, yet defiantly unbowed, he reflected on his inevitable demise with wonderfully expressive singing...."
"...Sir Simon Keenlyside isn’t one’s immediate idea of a barrel-chested, heroic Verdi baritone. There’s steel rather than brawn and Keenlyside doesn’t swagger around the stage. But while the approach might not meet one’s preconceptions, it works well for the character of Macbeth, who aspires to being the strong heroic character but repeatedly fails to live up to it, all too easily spooked by witches and ghosts. Keenlyside effectively depicted Macbeth’s mood swings between cold-blooded murder and remorseful, terrified child. Musically, he was always good to listen to, with attractive timbre and flow to the voice....."
".....(Simon Keenlyside)....But he's excellent at extracting full power from the words he sings and thrusting us deep into Macbeth's whirlpool; agonising torment swirling round with blunt ambition, mixed with serious uncertainty......"
"...Simon Keenlyside’s Macbeth is a good guy gone bad, who charts his arc into obsessive madness with care. His controlled tone is the straight man to soprano Anna Pirozzi’s Lady Macbeth, whose voice rides the enormous waves of Verdi’s score, harnessing all its dangerous power...."
"....Simon Keenlyside seems less naturally in command as Macbeth. For all his bluff and emphatic protestations, he too often remains Mozart’s tetchy Count Almaviva – albeit gone astray in the Highlands – but in the final act he achieves Verdian transcendence with his sustained lyrical flow as the guilt-ridden king sings of his regrets...."
".....And with Simon Keenlyside’s Macbeth and Anna Pirozzi as his wife, we get a chillingly convincing pairing. Keenlyside, a consummate actor, lets us follow all the stages of his descent into madness, and with Pirozzi we get a great diva in the old-fashioned mode: there’s cruel beauty in her sound, and she commands the stage at every moment....."
"...Keenlyside had the measure of this awkward role, particularly in the internalised sequences, more so than where leadership and stature are needed. This made Macbeth particularly frightening and unpredictable in the ‘dream’ sequences. In voice his rich baritone was especially effective in the daringly quiet moments..."
"....Simon Keenlyside’s Macbeth is by now a fully carved-out figure. Years of experience singing this role have given it an almost unique authority. He still needs a great foil to play against, and Pirozzi’s Lady Macbeth gave him that. Always the most subtle of baritones, Keenlyside edges into his roles with uneasy reserve, and a power of detail which can be a little unsettling. His Macbeth is all the more capricious because his decline into mania is so nuanced. This is a psychopath who stands in stark contrast to his deranged wife – the cleverness being one is never quite sure who is the more dangerous. Keenlyside’s voice remains a wonderfully dark and magisterial instrument – his aria, ‘Mi si affaccia un pugnal?’, during his long Act I duet with Lady Macbeth being magnificent. This is an unapologetic Macbeth who at the end is just as drenched in the blood of his enemies as his wife. Pirozzi and Keenlyside make for a truly chilling couple....."
"....The strength of her drive is in fine balance with Simon Keenlyside’s superstitious, doubting Macbeth, who morphs into a bloodthirsty tyrant, desperate to kill to stay in power. Keenlyside last sang this role in 2011. His voice has broadened and thickened over time and more vibrato has crept in, but its mahogany quality lingers, particularly when Verdi at last gives him a decent aria, Pietà, rispetto, amore, as he waits to face invading troops......"
".....Poor Macbeth – it’s his name on the poster, though invariably the soprano gets the biggest ovation. It was Simon Keenleyside’s (sic) fate, as we might expect, but he sang a blinder nonetheless.
He may not be a traditional Verdi baritone – less swagger and gurning machismo than one usually imagines – but marshals his vocal and dramatic resources smartly in this role. His more declamatory style suits the character’s vexed nature – there was a strong sense of internal conflict, of ruthlessness butting up against someone more vulnerable and uncertain, especially in the scene proceeding Duncan’s murder. (It also intensifies Verdi’s vision of a work more spoken than sung.)..."
"....Nel ruolo del titolo si impone Simon Keenlyside, al suo ritorno in questa produzione a distanza di dieci anni. La voce si è scurita e rimane omogenea, anche se il passare del tempo ha inesorabilmente ridotto rotondità e quantità di armonici. Pur senza quella ricchezza di voce baritonale verdiana tipicamente associata a questo ruolo, Keenlyside fa un lavoro egregio con lo scavo interpretativo. Il suo è un Macbeth in preda all’indecisione e al rimorso, che vorrebbe idealmente essere una figura eroica, ma che cade invece in modo fallimentare. La dizione italiana è eccellente e l’equilibrio tra l’eleganza del canto e l’efficacia dell’interpretazione rimane uno dei suoi punti di forza dopo tanti anni di gloriosa carriera. La sua attenzione alla parola e alle inflessioni del canto emerge in modo autorevole in “Pietà, rispetto, amore” nel quarto atto....."
"...Simon Keenlyside takes the title role, returning to this production ten years later. The voice has darkened and remains homogeneous, even if the passage of time has inexorably reduced roundness and quantity of harmonics. Even without that richness of Verdi baritone voice typically associated with this role, Keenlyside does an excellent job with interpretive excavation. His is a Macbeth in the throes of indecision and remorse, who ideally would like to be a heroic figure, but who instead falls into (moral) bankruptcy. The Italian diction is excellent and the balance between the elegance of the singing and the effectiveness of the interpretation remains one of his strengths after many years of a glorious career. His attention to the words and to the inflections of the song emerges in an authoritative way in "Pietà, Respect, Love" in the fourth act ..... "
(Translation by Google translate)
"...Pirozzi was, happily, well matched by a resounding Simon Keenlyside, ten years on from his previous stab at the role in this production and here sounding noticeably looser and more Italianate than last time. This was the most commanding I've heard him sound in ages, and three cheers for that....."