For Verdi, Shakespeare was a long-standing passion and Macbeth (the first of his three Shakespearean masterpieces) is widely seen as a major step forward in his artistic development. First seen in 2002, Phyllida Lloyd’s production encapsulates the sinister quality of the piece, with striking designs by Anthony Ward.
Conducted by Daniele Rustioni, Simon Keenlyside returns to the title role, which he first performed at Covent Garden in 2011, with Italian soprano Anna Pirozzi returning as Lady Macbeth. Austrian bass Günther Groissböck sings the role of Macbeth’s erstwhile friend Banquo and South Korean tenor David Junghoon Kim sings the role of Macbeth’s enemy and eventual nemesis, Macduff.
Macbeth is victorious as he fights on the side of the King of Scotland – but when a coven of witches prophesy that he shall become king himself, a ruthless ambition drives him and his wife to horrific acts.
Murder makes Macbeth king, with intrigue and butchery the hallmarks of his brief, doomed reign. The witches make another prediction, which also comes true: Macbeth and his lady lose their lives, and justice is restored.
The performance lasts about 3 hours 5 minutes, including one interval.