Verdi’s Macbeth was the first opera performed at the inaugural Edinburgh Festival in 1947. In opening its short residency, the Teatro Regio unveiled its recent staging of the opera. The production is strong in choreography and invokes Grigorovich’s ballets (particularly Spartacus). The stage is mostly simple with decorations arriving with scenery which looked more akin to cactus plants than Birnam Wood.
As director Emma Dante says: “The witches in my production are continually impregnated by well-endowed satyrs, enabling the perpetuation of the species.” There is further symbolism with an almost-crucifixion scene following Duncan’s death, and the episode with the raising throne and the remoteness of Macbeth left alone on top. There are some changes; the ‘letter scene’ is omitted with Macbeth telling his Lady, rather than her reading, and we see a simulated killing of Duncan before Macbeth murders him. The death of Macbeth is strikingly dramatic, ignoring the more-positive visuals of Malcolm being crowned.
The singing of Oksana Dyka as Lady Macbeth was at first strained, albeit reaching the heights yet without colour and beauty. In the fourth Act, Dyka’s singing related superbly to the character’s evil plotting – despite some comical props while sleepwalking – she superbly revealed the Lady’s descent into madness. Gabriele Viviani’s Macbeth was consistently excellent in his portrayal, with a strong darkly strident bass. The tenor of Piero Pretti’s Macduff was stunningly heroic, and the portrayal of Banquo by Marko Mimica was notable.
Throughout the chorus and orchestra were magnificent, superbly conducted by Gianandrea Noseda. The company continues in Edinburgh with Verdi’s Requiem and Puccini’s La bohème.