Chatting with Macbeth -- Marcelo Guzzo

“Strong and charming…idealistic” (The New York Times)
“ Majestic“ (The Boston Globe).

These are just some of the adjectives that music critics from Brazil to Lincoln Center use to praise Marcelo Guzzo (right) who takes the lead in Opera North's production of Verdi's Macbeth, opening on Sunday August 4th.

This past spring he performed as Valentin in Faust at the Festival Amazonas in Brazil; Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana at Theatro del Silenzio in Taormina and with Opera San Antonio.  He took the title role in Don Giovanni and Count Almaviva  in Le Nozze di Figaro in Uruguay; played Escamillo in Carmen with Omaha Opera, Germont in La Traviata in Tel-Aviv, and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with the Dallas Opera. He also appeared as Emile De Becque in Lincoln Center Theater’s production of South Pacific and performed in concerts with Andrea Bocelli conducted by Placido Domingo. He debuted at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall as a guest artist in the Puccini Foundation, performed on tour in China, at Walt Disney Hall in LA and with the New York City Opera. He performs in community programs sponsored by Carnegie Hall.

A treat for Opera North audiences, Marcelo brings a voice that rivals the geographical range of his performances to the role of Macbeth. We caught up with him when he paused for a moment to chat between rehearsals.

ON: You have such a wonderful reputation and have received such glowing reviews from the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, and internationally for performances all over the world -- what made you decide to come to the Upper Valley of NH to perform with Opera North?

MG: Thank you but on the contrary! I feel lucky to have the opportunity to debut such a role here. Opera North together with Maestro Burkot are so highly appreciated in the business, it is a pleasure to be here.

ON: What interests you in performing as Macbeth? Verdi's music? Shakespeare's character? The relevance of power-hungry people to today?

MG It’s all the above, Verdi’s Macbeth is a masterpiece. I think the challenge came at the right moment [for me.] It’s a tremendously demanding role that slowly grows into your “anima” and then continues to take years to fully develop. Verdi achieved another level of perfection with Macbeth. He clearly enjoyed the fantastic genre. The score is full of specific details and in this second version (Paris 1865) he developed (or better understood) a more theatrical vision and use of the voice and the text.

ON: Do you immerse yourself in the character of Macbeth -- imagining how he might react to life in circumstances beyond his specific parts in the opera? 

MG: Indirectly yes. You have no choice if you want to get somewhere. Macbeth is a vast character, full of dilemmas: the Machiavellian double moral standard and the cost that he and Lady Macbeth both endured is uncanny. Fueled by his wife, Macbeth embraced the witches’ premonition of power that knows no obstacles. If our values dictate the decisions in our lives, what happens to the values that Macbeth wanted to achieve -- pieta [compassion], respect, honor, love?

Macbeth's virtues are not strong enough to resist and in a split of a second he betrays himself to the ambiguous forces that violate life’s natural order. There is no turning back.  Now all is in the land of the manipulations of his mind that can’t differentiate reality from reason. It’s a endless struggle.

ON:  Is there something you discovered about Macbeth and his motivations that you didn't realize before you started to play the role?

MG: His is a fearless character -- full of fear of himself as he never understood or felt love. He’s his own worst enemy and he feels the guilt of what he could have done with his life. He could have had a glorious life, but took a short cut for power. Trying to justify his actions and continuing to hold onto that power unleashed all the darkness of his character. The Macbeths believed in a destiny created by their own hands, no matter the consequences and they pay the ultimate price. Might is all have been different if they knew ‘what is love’ ? Probably yes.

ON: This is an intriguing production -- Helena Binder's ideas on directing, Tony Cisek's set designs, Louis Burkot's decisions on the opera itself -- what is the most important reason people should come to this production? (In addition to having the opportunity to hear such an international star as yourself...)

MG: Many opera companies not only in America but all around the world only dream of the possibility of having Macbeth in their season. It is really impressive that this came together with Opera North. You can’t miss it! There is a strong team in place; and I will certainly try my best at all levels.

ON: Have you enjoyed working with the Resident Artists? What do you think they are learning from working with you?

MG: I’m not sure I can teach something to them. (They have taught me!) But rest assured this is a large, talented group with terrific attitudes. They have been so engaging and I have enjoyed their energy throughout the long period of rehearsals. By the way, Macbeth has the greatest coven of witches!

ON: So far what's your favorite memory of your visit to NH?

MG: The people and their appreciation for the art. Their flexibility to allowed them to enjoy without prejudice. The Blow-Me-Down Farm, the circus performances are a clear example. Just magic in a magical place.