Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
Stage Direction by Barbara Gaines
Conductor: Renato Palumbo
At the Lyric Opera of Chicago
Shakespeare and Verdi collide to produce a chilly wonderful opera
Be it understood that Verdi’s opera in NOT Shakespeare’s Macbeth set to music! Rather it is Verdi’s interruption of Macbeth utilizing the music to add depth to all the emotions of the main characters. Emphasizing feminine influence of Lady Macbeth to get her husband to murder his way to power, Verdi’s opera is filled with psychological torment expressed in the wonderful, melodic score that moves from rage to the joyous rebirth of a nation.
The 2 hour and 55 minute opera is magnificently stage by Chicago Shakespeare’s artistic director, Barbara Gaines, using James Noone’s steel structured set reminiscent of the Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park in Chicago. See the witches fly with their predictions. The sheer splendor of the set bleached in red and other vivid colors underscores the envy, the greed and the lust for power Lady Macbeth and her willing husband exhibit. There is bloodshed as each murder cements Macbeth’s power. Male and female tensions arise as each act of violence produces more guilt that drives a wedge between the two killers. Sheer tyrannical force destroys their love and their kingdom
As fine as Thomas Hampson was as Macbeth with his command of the stage and his roaring baritone, it was the powerful performance by Nadja Michael as Lady Macbeth that anchored the opera. Michael’s acting produced a wrenching character evolution fueled by guilt. Her fabulous wide-ranging soprano memorized us throughout. Verdi’s masterful score soared as he expertly musically interrupted Shakespeare’s emotional depth through music. Verdi’s score is epic in scope.
I was transfixed and thoroughly delighted by the spectacle and the quality of the staging that enhanced the scope of Hampson and Michael’s engaging performances. The audience gave a long and enthusiastic standing ovation to the opera. Beauty, melodies, expert vocals prevail at the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Macbeth. This is a moving grand opera. don’t miss it.