It opens with title and symbolic iconic moments of the play such as a bloody dagger projected on the screen. A majestic set by Gregory Carroll is revealed, the huge grand sets are exquisitely lit by Rob Sowinski with castles and other supporting backdrops projected onto the back wall. The witches made up of the huge 50+ strong chorus begins the epic tale which is told as a very simple easy to follow story over four acts and two intervals.
Verdi’s Macbeth misses some of the most interesting moments of Shakespeare's Macbeth gleaming over moments such as the power balance change between husband and wife when plotting Duncan's murder. This is due to the writing of course but some things have been necessarily added such as the bloody dagger and hand washing projections between scenes.
Macduff's family are never seen or heard from except by the powerful and transporting performance by Samuel Sakker as Macduff with his solo song in response to the loss of his family. Helena Dix as Lady Macbeth rocks the rafters with her impressive range. The voice between the leads melded well but the show really became a tour de force when the full chorus came together with the cast for certain numbers. You can close your eyes and let the vocal power wash over you, because that is what the opera is really about. The live music and stellar vocal performances which this production does deliver.
Opera is inherently dragged out by nature so long scene changes in silence with no music on a dead stage did not help. Adrian Tamburini as Banquo was sublime in his death scene and deep bass tones added a strong depth to the work. The director and creative team could really have been more clever with the Banquo ghost appearance at the dinner. Such a poignant moment of the play deserves more from the big budget and strong set and lightning setup. The performer simply walked on and off stage right, anti-climatic to say the least.
Opera lovers will get their fill of vibrato and resonance from the stand out performances of Helena Dix (Lady Macbeth), Adrian Tamburini (Banquo) and commanding presence of Samuel Sakker as Macduff. The most visually pleasing moment was the well choreographed fight scene by Charlie Mycroft superbly executed by Laurence Young and seemingly the entire chorus crossing blades at once. Verdi’s Macbeth is an enjoyable full night out at the opera and deserves the large applause it received for such a massive performative undertaking.
Melbourne Opera presents
Director Bruce Beresford
Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre | 219 Exhibition St, Melbourne VIC
Dates: 18, 20, 23, 26 May 2021
Tickets: $25 – $160