Tuesday, 29 June 2010


26/6/10, Glyndebourne

Written by Penelope
Macbeth has been staged countless times, as a play and as an opera. So coming up with new ideas and interpretations isn't easy. But director Richard Jones has ideas by the bucketload and they all seem to work, and add something to our understanding of the story. This is a very Scottish Macbeth with everyone, except the witches, wearing tartan. The witches themselves were splendid, though possibly not as scary as past incarnations. One was dressed as a babuska, complete with headscarf, one looked like a grungy teenager, with bright orange tights and the third bore a striking resemblance to Myra Hindley in a royal blue gilet. They certainly held your attention.

Of the main parts, Erika Sunnergardh was in strong voice as Lady Macbeth. Determined and sure in the early scenes, she fell apart in fabulous style and the sleep-walking scene was wonderful. She went back and forth on stage to a large washing machine, changing from one pair of white gloves to another trying to make her hands clean of Duncan's murder. It was mesmerising and moving. Andrzej Dobber was an effective Macbeth but the best voice of the night by a mile belonged to bass, Stanislav Shvets, who played Banquo. Whenever he was on the stage, you couldn't help but pay attention, as that deep, rich tone added to his authority. There was some fun too - Banquo's ghost was a radio controlled cardboard box, which I enjoyed but did detract from the horror of the moment when Macbeth realises his actions will haunt him. The staging was imaginative and the acting was solid. There were some moments (the slaying of Madcuff's family, when corpse after corpse is wheeled onto the stage) which will remain in my memory. Verdi's music is lovely but it’s the story which is centre stage.

Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's shortest plays and the action rattles along at a fair pace. Which gives you the opportunity to enjoy everything else Glyndebourne has to offer. The grounds and gardens are beautiful and a lovely setting for a picnic. It's all seriously posh and and unashamedly elitist which provides a contrast to the football fever which has gripped the nation for the past couple of weeks.

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