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Macbeth by Giuseppe Verdi

Macbeth is one of the most iconic figures from Shakespeare literature. This play was especially difficult for Verdi when he composed his opera on Shakespeares play; he wanted to remain true to the original and because of this, Verdi had to walk new paths. There were bold and unanticipated changes to the harmonies.

The premiere of Macbeth was on 14th March 1847 in Florence. There was a revised version in a French translation by Charles Nuitter and Alexandre Beaumont on the 21st April 1865 in Paris. It is a melodrama in four acts. The opera is set in Scotland and the Scottish-English border in the mid 11th century.

Characters:

Duncano/Duncan, King of Scotland (silent)

Macbeth (Baritone)

Banco/Banquo (Bass)

Lady Macbeth (Soprano)

Macduff, a Scottish nobleman and the Thane of Fife (Tenor)

Malcom, the son of Duncan (Tenor)

Fleanzio/Fleance, the son of Banquo (silent)

Lady in Waiting to Lady Macbeth (Mezzo-soprano)

A Doctor (Bass)

A servant of Macbeth (Bass)

Sicario and Araldo, the muereders (Bass, Bass)

The Ghost of Banquo (silent)

A Herald (Bass)

Hecate, the goddess of the night (silent)

Witches, bards, messengers of the king, English soldiers, Scottish nobles, exiles, spirits and apparitions (the chorus)

Synopsis:

Act I

Scene 1: Set in a wood, the Scottish generals Macbeth and Banquo encounter some strange figures they believe to be witches. These witches proclaim that Macbeth, who is Thane of Glamis, will become Thane of Cawdor and then later, the king of Scotland. Banquor is told that his descendants will be kings. The prophecy that the witches claim seems to be coming true; messengers greet Macbeth as the new Thane of Cawdor.

Scene 2: In Macbeths castle, Lady Macbeth receives a letter from her husband. He tells her about the prophecy and when King Duncan stays the night in their castle, they murder him.

Act II

Scene 1: In a hall in Macbeths castle, Macbeth feels no pleasure in being king. This is because he remembers the prophecy that Banquos descendants will be kings. With his wife, Macbeth plots to kill Banquo and his son.

Scene 2: In a grove in the vicinity of Macbeths castle, hired men kill Banquo but his son manages to escape.

Scene 3: In a hall in Macbeths castle, Macbeth and his wife hold a banquet for the Scottish nobles. However, when Macbeth learns the news that Fleance has escaped the festivities are interrupted when the ghost of Banquo arrives and Macbeth starts talking to it. This causes the guests to be a little frightened.

Act III

In a dark cave, Macbeth asks the witches for more information on his destiny. They tell him that he will reign until Birnam Wood marches against him. They also warn him of one of the other thanes, Macduff. Macbeth asks about Banquos descendents and they show him a vision of future kings. Macbeth and his wife are childless and feeling cheated, have Macduffs entire family murdered, including the women and children.

Act IV

Scene 1: On the gloomy border between Scotland and England, Macduff mourns his family. Malcom, the son of king Duncan, raises an army to march against Macbeth.

Scene 2: In the castle, Lady Macbeth is tormented by her guilty conscience. She starts to sleepwalk around the castle and finally dies of guilt.

Scene 3: In the castle, Macbeth falls into a rage when he learns about the army marching towards him. He is told about his wifes death, but he feels indifferent to the news.

Scene 4: On the field, Macbeth stands against Macduff and Malcom. Birnam Wood starts to march towards him, disguised with branches. Macbeth is killed by Macduff.





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