- Macbeth, opera
When the Opera in English series on the Chandos label began in 1995, AOL was just coming into its own, Google was far from launching, and even opera supertitles were not general. There was a real need for operatic recordings that removed the layer of interference from foreign language. In 2014 the need is less clear, but this, the 62nd and final release in the series, is a worthy conclusion, and it should be remembered that this was a very common way of performing operas of all kinds until relatively recently. Performed here in its 1865 revision, "Macbeth" was perhaps the first Verdi opera to point the way to the breakdown in the structure of recitative and aria that was coming very soon: the fantastic power of the drama and Verdi's understanding of it blast through the boundaries. There is much in it that sounds like Rossini, but also much that sounds like German opera. It is presented here by a cast headed by veteran baritone Simon Keenlyside in the title role, with a variety of other singers, notably American soprano Latonia Moore, who fit English National Opera conductor Edward Gardner's colorful, driving conception of the work. It's an exciting reading that gets the music across, and the only question for listeners is whether they'll be distracted by the Jeremy Sams translation of the Piave libretto (it is contemporary but existed before this project), which is plain and utilitarian in the extreme.