CAST: Macbeth: Giuseppe Taddei, Lady Macbeth: Leyla Gencer, Banquo: Ferruccio Mazzoli, Dama: Stefania Malagù, Macduff: Mirto Picchi, Malcolm: Franco Ricciardi, Medico: Guido Malfatti, Servo: Leonardo Monreale, Sicario: Ugo Miraglia, Araldo: Giorgio Rossetti
Orchestra del Teatro Massimo di Palermo
Vittorio Gui, conductor
Living Stage, 1999 (and others)
This Macbeth is an old live recording (good despite some unavoidable background noise) from the Teatro Massimo of Palermo, performed on 14th January 1960 under Vittorio Gui’s baton. It features two extraordinary interpreters of the past, Giuseppe Taddei in the title role and Leyla Gencer as Lady Macbeth, alongside with other good or very good singers.
Giuseppe Taddei is one of the finest Macbeth I have ever heard. He does not portray the character as an alienated person and sometimes lacks the dramatic strength of other illustrious colleagues, but he emphasizes Macbeth’s human side as no one else does. His variety of accents and sincere expression of feelings always reveals a victim rather than a hero and it seems that Taddei insists on this aspect with particular care.
Leyla Gencer is Lady Macbeth from tip to toe. She possesses a true dramatic spirit and is terrible when she stresses the resoluteness and cruelty of the Lady. Her singing is strong, sometimes even masculine, but effortless and natural, but Gencer’s Lady is not a flat character and she is also a charming hostess in the scene of the banquet and, in the so-called somnambulism scene, she enchants with the magnetic force of her distressed and alienated singing. Gencer is simply perfect and thrilling.
Mirto Picchi is a remarkable Macduff and his aria from Act IV is a moment of sincere sorrow and desperation. Ferruccio Mazzoli as Banquo is very good too and his duet with Macbeth at the beginning of Act I is absolutely superb. Mention of honour to Stefania Malagù, who sings the short part of Lady Macbeth’s lady-in-waiting.
Vittorio Gui’s direction is full of anguish and darkness, maybe the best thing after Gencer’s performance. The orchestra is not always precise and accurate but still, it is easy to imagine a world on the verge of disaster and the sombre, hopeless atmosphere which surrounds Macbeth’s tragedy of ambition.