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Verdi's Macbeth this Sunday January 24 at 8PM on The Lyric Stage

Verdi wrote Macbeth for the Teatro della Pergola in Florence, where it premiered on 14 March, 1847. It was Verdi's tenth opera. Verdi deeply respected Shakespeare, and worked hard to maintain the integrity of his source when he set about to write his own version of Macbeth. Critic Gary Wills has noted the many affinites of Shakespeare and Verdi, how they worked in theater conditions with many similarities, supplying performances on a heavy schedule, to audiences with a voracious appetite for what they wrote, and both had to be aware of censors. Both were hands on in the details of their productions, and both were constrained by the talent available to them for a given role. Shakespeare famously wrote much shorter parts for women because they were played by boys. And for Macbeth, Verdi did not have what he thought was a worthy tenor, so he wrote Macduff as a minor role.(Verdi said that there were only three main characters in Macbeth - Macbeth, his wife, and the witches. Verdi respected his singers, often asking their approval of how he wrote music for them to be sure that they felt it best fit their voice, much as Shakespeare wrote for his band of actors what best suited their abilities and types.

On return from battle, King Duncan’s generals, Macbeth and Banquo, encounter three unnatural women who deliver a strange prophecy. When Macbeth tells his ambitious wife of their prediction – that he will become King of Scotland – it  leads to much murder, madness and their own death. It follows Shakespeare closely, but the tribute to Verdi and Piave is that it is a unique work of its own.

Piero Cappuccilli sings Macbeth, Shirley Verrett Lady MacBeth, Nicolai Ghiaurov Banquo and Placido Domingio Macduff, with Claudio Abbado conducting the La Scala Orchestra and Chorus.