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.... (read more)
In a much-cited letter to Francesco Maria Piave, his librettist for Macbeth, Verdi wrote, ‘This tragedy is one of the greatest creations of the human spirit. If we can’t do something great with it, let us at least try to do something out of the ordinary.’ As it happens, they did do something laudable with the Scottish Play ...... (read more)
Macbeth, directed by Geordie Brookman, artistic director of the State Theatre Company of South Australia, is the second production to showcase the STCSA’s new acting ensemble. The first, A Doll’s House, with an updated text by Elena Carapetis and also directed by Brookman ...... (read more)
This is Macbeth reimagined as a supernatural-themed action movie for the stage, a high-speed entertainment with explosions and gunplay and plenty of special effects. Macbeth and his fellow Scots scamper about in fatigues, flak jackets, and modern full-dress uniforms, accompanied ...... (read more)
It has been said we get the versions of Shakespeare that mirror our times. If so, it is chilling to speculate what Australian director Justin Kurzel’s take on Macbeth, the story of a loyal warrior who succumbs to the temptation to commit regicide, says about the current state of the world.
Macbeth, Shakespeare’s darkest and bloodiest tale, ...
Of Shakespeare’s tragedies, Macbeth seems the most prescient, apposite to a species rapidly running out of world. Upon hearing of the Witches’ prophecy, and resolving her course with chilling alacrity, Lady Macbeth invokes the nether realm of her potentialities:
Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,