Monday, February 03, 2014


I went to the Minnesota Opera yesterday. It was Verdi's Macbeth, and it was fabulous. Good libretto, good music, good production, good singing.

I had a huge coughing fit in the third act, after my anti-cough medication wore off. I thought about leaving, but I was in the middle of a row. Getting past my neighbors would have been almost as disruptive as the coughing. It stopped finally, thanks to cough drops. The act ended well, though not for the Macbeths...

The sets were gray, and the costumes mostly gray or black. In the act where Macbeth and his lady decide to murder Macduff and his family, the lighting created streaks of red that ran down the walls like blood, until the entire set was red. Very impressive.

I have notes on writing from a talk Jack McDevitt gave, and I glanced over them before the opera. He said the important, dramatic stuff has to happen on stage. In this production of the opera all the murders happen off stage. The closest to onstage was Banquo's. The murderers close in on him, and the curtain falls. We hear a thud, but do not see him drop. I liked it.

I often write poems about the operas I've seen. In most cases, there is something about the opera I don't like or find unsatisfying, and I write a poem to fix the problem. I can't do this in response to Macbeth. It goes exactly as it should. A completely satisfying experience, and -- in some ways -- my favorite of Shakespeare's tragedies. Verdi compresses the already very tight play further, and reduces the actors to three important parts: Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and the chorus. The last got considerable applause at the opera's end, and they had earned it.

It's possible to see the opera as having an ancient Greek structure: a protagonist, an antagonist and a chorus. All the violence happens offstage. I don't want to push this far, since it's a long time since I've read any ancient Greek plays.


Blogger Laura Morrigan said...

I saw that a few years ago. The version we saw had rather minimalist sets and military uniforms. I was inspired to write a piece on my blog about the portrayal of witches.

9:41 PM  

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