"Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble..."

Macbeth has his eyes on the Scottish throne, and his ambitions are outweighed only by those of his wife, the bloodthirsty Lady Macbeth.

As the doomed couple, baritone Thomas Hampson and soprano Nadja Michael deliver the vocal fireworks of two of Giuseppe Verdi’s most challenging roles, Hampson for the first time at the Metropolitan Opera and Nadja Michael in her company debut. Gianandrea Noseda conducts his first Met performances of Verdi’s darkly stunning work, adapted from the Shakespeare tragedy of the same title. Tenor Dimitri Pittas reprises his performance as Macduff, seen in the 2007 premiere of Adrian Noble’s production, and bass Günther Groissböck sings the role of Banquo. Macbeth will be heard live over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network. View the photo gallery above to see images from the Met's production.

One of the musical high points of Macbeth is the part played by the chorus members. In Shakepeare's version, three witches raise their prophecies, warning Macbeth to beware of Macduff and assure him that “no man of woman born” can harm him. Verdi asks the chorus as a whole to cast their spell. Another frequently excerpted passage is the famous Chorus of Scottish Refugees, "Patria, oppresa." For Verdi, it was a subliminal message in support of Italian independence.

Oppressed land of ours! You cannot have
the sweet name of mother
now that you have become a tomb
for your sons.
From orphans, from those who mourn,
some for husbands, some for children,
at each new dawn a cry goes up
to outrage heaven.

 

The Met's synopsis will guide you through the plotline, and following the Met's broadcast, host Bill Richardson will speak with Pulitzer prizewinning writer Garry Wills about parallels between Shakespeare and Verdi.

Last season, The Royal Opera House produced a blog post that's well worth visiting: Macbeth, Verdi, & Shakespeare: 10 Things you might not know.

Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, with host Bill Richardson
Saturday March 24, 2012 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. (2:00-6:00 AT, 2:30-6:30 NT) on CBC Radio 2.

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posted by Matthew Baird on Mar 21, 2012