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Opera Review: Verdi's Macbeth (*****)

Lorna Irvine reviews the 'wonderful' new production from Scottish Opera.

This revival of Dominic Hill's 2005 production may not murder sleep- but it will trouble your dreams somewhat. The simplicity of the staging is its strength (a rusty, war-torn hideout designed by Tom Piper, which endlessly transforms with just a few props into chamber and plush bar ) and it is fleshed out by an excellent cast singing in English, and Verdi's bombastic yet graceful live score.

Of course, the Scottish play as directed by Dominic Hill had to be irreverent, and there are some typically Hillesque touches- such as the Wyrd Sisters slithering from broken windows, chain-smoking and drinking like feral teens on The Jeremy Kyle Show (Sioned Gwen Davies in particular is an expressive little minx), the curtain collapsing completely on the second act, and blood pouring from taps during Lady Macbeth's somnambulist wandering, where she reveals the murder of Banquo.

Macbeth himself (David Stephenson) is a muscular antihero, with a fine voice and nervy presence, but is somewhat upstaged by Thomas Faulkner's towering, glowering Banquo, who smoulders whether corporeal or apparition. Their duets together ooze malice and machismo.

But it is Elisabeth Meister, making her Scottish Opera debut tonight as Lady Macbeth, who really shines- a voluptuous exercise in sensuality: heart-rending in her solos, playful and bawdy during the drinking scene. The steely-eyed emasculation of her husband is as compelling as in any production I have seen, and her voice is breath-taking—it could scale whole buildings then demolish them.

The whole is like a living, breathing Goya painting, drenched in blood, mud and lust—just wonderful. Scottish Opera and The Citizens Theatre are a dream pairing, indeed. Prepare to be haunted.

Until March 29th at the Citizens Theatre, before touring nationally- check press and websites.

Tags: opera

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