Verdi's 'Macbeth' in Arizona,
reviewed by MARIA NOCKIN
Giuseppe Verdi composed Macbeth in late 1846 and early 1847. Although it was his ninth opera, it was premièred a mere five years after his third work and first major success, Nabucco. Verdi was an ardent Shakespeare enthusiast and he wanted to compose an opera that would be on a level with the works of the English bard.
To insure the best possible production, Verdi made sure he had the finest librettist available, Francesco Maria Piave, and worked closely with him. He also had his friend Andrea Maffei contribute some lines. He secured the services of star baritone, Felice Varese, before committing definitely to a date and he told the theater manager to spend every bit of money necessary to secure the best designers and a fine chorus.
The Doctor (Andrew Gray) with Lady Macbeth (Brenda Harris) in the 2006 Arizona Opera production of Verdi's 'Macbeth'. Photo © 2006 Tim Fuller
Macbeth was, at that time, the composer's most original and inventive work, and he insisted that the performers rehearse it for three months before its première at the Teatro Pergola in Florence on 14 March 1847. In that era, composers were also stage directors and Verdi cared a great deal about the visual presentation of his works. Needless to say, the first performance of Macbeth was a major success.
Copyright © 21 October 2006
Maria Nockin, Arizona USA