Opera in four acts, with an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave and additions by Andrea Maffei, based on the play by William Shakespeare
Composer: Verdi, Giuseppe 1813 - 1901
English version by Jeremy Sams
Macbeth (1847, later revised) was Verdi’s tenth of almost thirty operas, and written just before the great successes of 1850 to 1853 (Rigoletto, Il trovatore and La traviata), which propelled the composer into universal fame. Macbeth was the first of Shakespeare’s plays which Verdi adapted for the operatic stage, which provided the composer with lifelong inspiration. SYNOPSIS: Three witches predict that Macbeth will become the next King of Scotland, and that Banquo, son of the current King, will father to future kings. Lady Macbeth, having read of the witches’ prophecy, encourages her husband to kill King Duncan in his sleep. Macbeth does so, becomes King, and - remembering the prophecy - decides that Banquo and his children must be put to death. Banquo is killed, but his son escapes. During a banquet, Banquo’s ghost appears, which scares Macbeth. Macbeth returns to the witches, who assure him that no man “born of woman” will ever harm him. Another ghost tells Macbeth that no harm will come to him until Birnam Wood moves toward him. Macduff, who has left Scotland, is planning revenge, having heard that his family has been killed. Lady Macbeth becomes deranged with guilt for the murders that have been committed. Macbeth sees Birnam Wood approaching, but also remembers that no man “born of woman” can hurt him. It transpires, however, that Macduff was “ripped” from his mother’s womb at birth, and he kills Macbeth.