Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Susan Neves in Verdi's MACBETH!

Since time can sometimes do cruel things to a singer within a very short period, I'm fervently hoping that Susan Neves's tackling of the most demanding repertoire open to a prima donna will continue to give her glory. Well over a year ago, I attended a Nabucco at the MET, a huge space as most here know, in which Neves's Abigaille proved amazingly accomplished: Full precision in all the intricate passagework, including expert trills in the Act II cabaletta, was matched by unflagging power and resilience in the most declamatory sequences, and the voice was so fresh and easy in the last scene that, as Abigaille lies dying, Neves delivered a flawless messa di voce, capping a poignant reading of Abigaille's remorse. It's rare to hear this role sung so accurately and so powerfully and so musically. But just as remarkable, it's especially rare to hear Abigaille sound so easy!

Since, as such Assoluta roles go, Abigaille is one of the shortest, I've been curious to know if Susan Neves could still sound so effortless at the end of a long evening, performing one of the other roles highlighted in the Assoluta book. Moreover, has she continued to retain her vocal freshness since that remarkable night at the MET? Today, I'll have the chance to find out --

Radio 4 Netherlands - A performance from the Royal Albert Hall of Verdi's Macbeth, in the original 1847 version, with Susan Neves and Lucio Gallo, conducted by Giuliano Carella. The broadcast starts at GMT 1800/EDT 2:00PM today(!) -- Tuesday, the 12th.


Granted, since this is the 1847 version, that means no "La luce langue" or "Ora di morte" duet. Still, we will have the rare "Trionfai" in place of "La luce langue", and even in Verdi's original opera, the role of Lady Macbeth is already somewhat longer than Abigaille. So we'll see how well Neves's high pianissimo holds up in the final scene of an arduous and long role (her pianissimo was so spectacular in Abigaille's dying measures, after all).

For other reasons, this could be a tremendously exciting performance. I've heard Gallo do some remarkable singing in other roles as well; so, if Neves's Lady Macbeth does pan out, this might be a gratifying reading of Verdi's opera as a whole, not just a tour de force for one superbly endowed prima donna.


Geoffrey Riggs


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