Giuseppe Verdi (1813 – 1901)
Opera in four acts;
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave and Andrea Maffei, based on a tragedy by William Shakespeare;
First performed on 14th March 1847 in Florence (1st version), 21st April 1865 in Paris (2nd version);
Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 12th June 2011
In Italian language with German surtitles
|Stage design||Radu Boruzescu|
|Costume design||Miruna Boruzescu|
|Light design||Manfred Voss|
|Chorus master||William Spaulding|
|Macbeth||Thomas Johannes Mayer|
|Lady Macbeth||Marianne Cornetti|
|chambermaid of Lady Macbeth||Fionnuala McCarthy|
|Macbeth's servant / A doctor / Messenger||Andrew Harris|
|Chorus||Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin|
|Orchestra||Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin|
Witches prophesy that Macbeth will become King of Scotland. Not he, but Banquo, will however be the progenitor of future kings. Driven by the relentless greed for power of wife, murdering the king and numerous atrocities enable him to take possession of the crown and ascend the throne of Scotland. In the pursuit of this goal, he destroys everything in his way. Inevitably, the price for this is madness: Lady Macbeth cannot free herself from the blood of the murdered King Duncan – the tyrant himself cannot escape the sinister prophecy of the witches.
»The subject of the opera is neither political nor religious: it is fantastic« – Giuseppe Verdi's appraisal of what is surely William Shakespeare's most sinister strongly suggests its relegation to the genre of the »romantic opera«. Witches, ghosts, apparitions, all uncanny, scenes dominated by chanting, can in fact be understood as externally depicting the inner states of the protagonists: owing to the fundamentally romantic orientation MACBETH is far more an invitation to psychological analysis than were many of the preceding works, from NABUCCO via ERNANI to ATTILA.
In his efforts to reflect Shakespeare's model, Verdi did not allow himself or his librettists, Francesco Maria Piave and Andrea Maffei, any venialities. Determined »to achieve something more than the ordinary«, the composer was implacable in his demands. He thus succeeded in creating musically developed personalities as never before seen, and he distanced himself from the conventions of traditional Italian opera to a degree unparalleled.
The subtlety of human characterisation, which enables even the most harmless figure to literally walk over dead bodies without inhibition in order to seize power and cling to this power - mostly achieved by wrongful means - lays the groundwork in MACBETH for the modern psychological opera far more frequently associated with the Wagnerian music drama.
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»I am aware that you intend to perform Macbeth and, as this opera is more important to me than all the others, allow me to say a few words about this opera. One has assigned the role of Lady Macbeth to Tadolini, and I am amazed that she declared herself in agreement with this. […] Signora Tadolini has an attractive and a good figure, but I would like Lady Macbeth to be ugly and wicked. Tadolini sings with perfection, but I do not wish the Lady to sing. Tadolini has a fantastic, clear, pure, powerful voice, but I would like the Lady to have a harsh, stifled, muffled voice. Indeed, her voice possesses something angelic, but I would like something diabolical.« Giuseppe Verdi
A Production of the Opera Cologne
Pre-performance lecture (in German): 45 minutes prior to each performance