Macbeth (opera)

Macbeth (opera)

"Macbeth" is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi, with an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave and additions by Andrea Maffei, based on Shakespeare's play of the same name.


Giuseppe Verdi started writing music for "Macbeth" in 1846-47. Piave's text was based on a prose translation by Carlo Rusconi that had been published in Turin in 1838. Verdi did not encounter Shakespeare's original work until after the first performance of the opera at the Teatro della Pergola in Florence on March 14, 1847.

Nearly 20 years later, Verdi was asked to provide additional music for a production at the Théâtre Lyrique in Paris, and this gave him an opportunity to revise the entire opera, in particular music for Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in Acts 1 and 3 and adding a ballet. This new version was first performed on April 21, 1865 and remains the preferred version for modern performances.

Verdi's version follows Shakespeare's play quite closely, but with some interesting changes: Instead of using three witches as in the play, there is a large female chorus of witches, singing in three part harmony. The last act begins with an assembly of refugees on the English border, and, in the revised version, ends with a chorus of bards celebrating victory over the tyrant, possibly as a compliment to Shakespeare himself.

There are several recordings of "Macbeth", although the opera is not considered as important as Verdi's two other works based on Shakespeare - "Otello" and "Falstaff". Some recordings [The 1976 Abbado version is one example. See selected recordings above)] and some performances today [The 2007 San Francisco Opera's production is one example] incorporate both Macbeth's final aria before he dies (from the original version) "and" the revised version's ending with the soldiers' chorus.

Performance history

After the 1865 premiere, which was followed by only 13 more performances, the opera generally fell from popularity so that, by about 1900 it was rarely performed until after World War 2.

Two important European production in Berlin in the 1930s and at Glynebourne in 1938 and 1939 were notable, but it was not until the 1960 production and (subsequent revivals) at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden with Tito Gobbi (and then others in the title role) that it appeared on the Royal Opera House's stage for the first time. Recently is has appeared in the repertories of the Metropolitan Opera (2008), the Washington National Opera (2007), and the San Francisco Opera (Nov/Dec 2007)




* "The Opera Goer's Complete Guide" by Leo Melitz, 1921 version.

External links

* [ Recordings of "Macbeth"]
* [ Libretto]

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