Under conductor, Gianandrea Noseda, Verdi’s superb opera of Macbeth is stunning at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre.

A vigorous and athletic cast includes actors from the Sud Costa Occidentale and students from the Scuola del Mestieri dello Spettacolo del Teatro Bionda di Palermo. With all the elements re-told in dance, music and drama with the backdrop of an amazing set, this co-production with Associazione Aren Sferisterio-Macertata Opera Festival was one of the most exciting interpretations of the well-known ‘Scottish Play’ I have seen.

Emma Dante, Director, previously summarised her approach (in a conversation with Laura Anello and translated by Susannah Howe) as: ‘Macbeth is tormented, torn apart, manipulated. In fact, in the scene in which Duncan is murdered I give Macbeth a double, dressed exactly the same as he is. The double stabs the king first, but Duncan does not die, Macbeth has to take the dagger and murder him. This is how I represent that inner conflict.’

Asked if there is any light in the opera, Dante says: ‘There is Macbeth’s passion which is, in a way, a chink of light. And there is Duncan, the good king who becomes a Christ-like figure, a kind of martyr.’ And to the question, ‘What is it that kills Lady Macbeth?’ she says: ‘She dies of insomnia! At her end she is besieged by beds. She tries to lie down but cannot fall asleep. The hospital beds represent her pathological condition and the crown-shaped gates that descend from above represent her desire for power.’

Further into the interview Emma speaks of the blood-stained enormous flowing sheet of silk from which Macbeth emerges: ‘Yes, it is soaked in the blood of unsolved crime from the victims of war but also the blood of the many pregnancies starkly depicted. None of which was Lady Macbeth’s’.

The above excerpts and the description of how the Birnam wood came to the Scottish borders is a word picture of the interpretation. The use of a skeletal horse was dramatic; reminiscent of The War Horse production at the Festival Theatre and very evocative.

This fabulous, colourful and musically perfect production was spine-tingling and compulsive. The scenery was superb in a minimalist way, with golden thrones descending on to the set – the top one being for Macbeth; at first beyond his reach but when he finally reached that pinnacle, there was no way down… And after the forest of Birnam Wood comes on to the stage, the huge cast moves this well-known story swiftly to the eventual death of Macbeth.

The cast, led by Dante, (and Guiseppe Cutino Assistant Director; Giandrea NoCseda, Conductor; and Claudio Fenoglia, Chorus Master), offer an enthralling experience which is certainly one of the 70th Festival performances I shall never forget.

Performed in Italian with English surtitles.


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Christine Richard OBE FRSA Christine has over 25 years' experience in public life in Scotland in the fields of politics, education, public relations and charity work. For 12 years she served on the City of Edinburgh District Council and was her Group's leader for 4 years. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 1992 she was made an OBE. Christine is a member of the Board of The Friends of the Royal Scottish Academy. She has just completed six years on the Board of The Edinburgh International Festival. Christine's business experience has covered the fields of theatre, economic development, science, coal mining, education and training. She has held a number of non-executive directorships in these disciplines. She is a trained and experienced personal relationships counsellor and a business and personal mentor. In 2005 Christine established Christine Richard Associates who undertake Event Management and Public Relations as well as company and individual profiling. She coordinated the 'Yes to Edinburgh' campaign on congestion charging in Edinburgh. ten years ago Christine co-founded West Lothian Women in Business, which is a network for women who are self-employed and also for women managers. Christine has now stepped down from the Chair of this thriving organisation. For 5 years Christine was a magistrate in the District Court. She was also a member of the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on the appointment of Justices of the Peace. She has been an adviser to Government in various areas of policy, including health, local government and education. Christine is a trained and experienced radio and television broadcaster and writer as well as an entertaining and accomplished speaker. She has a wealth of topics on which she is invited to speak. These range from witty after lunch and after dinner speaking to the more serious topics of the economy, health, education, enterprise, the Powers of the Mind and Life/work balance. She writes reviews and articles for lifestyle magazine, Lothian Life. She took part as a contestant in an ITV gourmet TV show, Chef V Britain, challenging TV chef Gino D'Acampo to cook her signature dish, Posh Cottage Pie. Currently Christine is a member of the Goodison Group in Scotland and Scotland's Futures. Also she is involved in the group Changing the Chemistry of Scottish Boards. Her first novel, Whitewalls, a modern Scottish family saga has been published by New Generation Publishing and is available on all internet books siets and from libraries. She is writing a sequel Autumn at Whitewalls. Her leisure interests include her family, literature, music, theatre, food, wine and horse racing. She is a member of a racing syndicate, which has two horses in training.

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