Macbeth

Grappling with the complexities of Verdi's opera
Melbourne Opera
by
ABR Arts 24 May 2021

Macbeth

Grappling with the complexities of Verdi's opera
Melbourne Opera
by
ABR Arts 24 May 2021
The cast of Macbeth performed by Melbourne Opera
The cast of Macbeth performed by Melbourne Opera

As the third Verdi opera on offer in Melbourne this season (along with Opera Australia’s Aida and Ernani), Melbourne Opera’s production of Verdi’s Macbeth at Her Majesty’s Theatre is a mixed offering. Verdi wrote Macbeth ­– one of his earliest operas and less celebrated than his later Shakespearean works, Otello (1887) and Falstaff (1893) – when he was thirty-three; it had its première in Florence in 1847. Both musically and dramatically, it is clearly rooted in the bel canto era, which prioritised beautiful singing above all else. In 1865, Verdi revised the opera for the Paris Opera. Usually, one version or the other is performed; however, this performance saw an amalgamation of the two. This creation of a new version of Verdi’s work might be considered either innovative or musicologically messy. Regardless, it further complicates the relationship between source work and adaptation that is, for better or worse, always at play in Shakespeare-based opera.

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