Review: New slants on the well known story of Macbeth

James Dacre’s new production of Macbeth by English Touring Opera at the Lyceum has threatening contemporary resonances.

Thursday, 18th April 2019, 1:06 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th April 2019, 2:33 pm
The Witches in ETO's Macbeth

Modern dress is worn, the set is grey, adaptable and heavily fortified.

The opera is sung clearly in English. The translation, by the late Andrew Porter, uses the best bits of Shakespeare’s text and makes it fit the Italian music beautifully: a great achievement.

The music is wonderful, from the chilling scene setting of the overture through the very different and increasingly dark musical encounters which follow. The small orchestra, conducted by Gerry Cornelius, does justice to this varied music. The ETO chorus is talented and adaptable as always.

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Tanya Hirst really fills the demanding role of Lady Macbeth, her singing is impressive and her acting skilled: clearly the driving force in the marriage.

She is well matched with Grant Doyle as Macbeth who allows us to see how ambition corrodes his mind and his country. Andrew Slater is excellent as Banquo, rightly suspicious of Macbeth’s ambition. Banquo’s son is played by local lad Jake Saville, aged 11.

The witches first appear on the battlefield as nursing nuns, laying out the dead. Without their nurses’ aprons, they go on to briefly but chillingly haunt the key scenes which they have foretold.

New slants on a well known story and excellent music made for a really good evening.