Is this an Opera which we see before us…
Why yes, it is. And one by Verdi no doubt. As we sat down to watch the Welsh National Opera’s portrayal of Macbeth at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton. We noticed the distinct lack of empty seats and thought, ‘Hum, this should be good then’. And we weren’t disappointed.
The Opera started with a live Orchestra playing right at the front of the stage but, on the floor so they didn’t obstruct the view. They were not loud so that they gave you a headache or drowned out the actors, but the right volume, almost like a soundtrack. The curtain then rose to reveal a wonderfully set stage.
The angle of the props made the stage look even bigger than it was, and helped to involve the audience. There were distinct parallels between Macbeth and Dido and Aeneas by Purcell, which Verdi would have known about and most likely been inspired by.
One that was spotted was when you are introduced to are the Witches but, instead of just three women, there are groups, using their vocal lines to produce eerie effects. As they began to sing, we thought, but how will we know what they are saying? And that is when we spotted it. A small screen placed at the top of the stage with subtitles on. Which meant that, even though we don’t speak Italian, we had no problem what-so-ever with following along.
And, much like the perfect volume of sound, the lighting was bang on the money as well. Dark enough to give the entire set an eerie feel, but, not so dark that you cannot see what is happening. The only nit-pick about the lighting that we have is that, the strobes that they used. One was positioned in such a way that; every time it went off, we were momentarily blinded. However, this could have been due to where we were sat.
And now we come to the actors. They had the most amazing voices. None more so than Miriam Murphy, who played Lady Macbeth. Such power and emotion. The second parallel was the untimely death of Lady Macbeth albeit due to different circumstances, the melancholy was present in Lady Macbeths vocal tones, a stark contrast to the first acts, just like Dido’s final lament.
Overall, we would give this a 3/5. The atmosphere, music, lighting, staging, actors were magnificent. The only issues, for us, where the tiny mistakes that happened when there were big group performances and, how slow the setting of the stage was. About four, maybe five times, there were awkward, five minute, pauses where no one knew what was going on. And one point, the main lights even came on as everyone thought it was an interval. Did we enjoy it? Yes. Would we recommend it? Yes, just without all the little mishaps.