Sep 23 & 25, 2022
The first genuine masterpiece of Verdi’s career, and the first of his three Shakespearean operas, Macbeth is a political potboiler full of witches, ghosts, murders, mayhem, and madness. Verdi has created a stunning musical portrait of opera’s most power-hungry couple that bristles with doom and crackles with an unforgettable score. Starring the legendary baritone Lester Lynch as Macbeth and Jill Gardner (MDLO’s stunning Minnie in La Fanciulla del West at Strathmore) as the fiendish Lady Macbeth. The all-star supporting cast includes MDLO favorites Andrea Silvestrelli as Banco and Yi Li as Macduff.
MDLO’s presentation at Strathmore puts the MDLO Orchestra center stage, while dramatic lighting, captivating projections, and enhanced visual supervision by David Gately takes the audience directly to Macbeth’s castle for an unforgettable performance.
Meet the Artists
Lester Lynch, an established dramatic baritone, is making his mark in some of the world’s leading opera houses. Known for his charismatic portrayals and commanding voice, he is receiving rave reviews as he masters some of the most important baritone roles from Scarpia to Rigoletto to Count di Luna. Opera Today recently enthused, “It was booming baritone Lester Lynch who served notice that he is now in consideration for admittance to the Scarpia Preferred Pantheon – when he needed to pour it on he had the Puccinian fire power and the dramatic heat to raise the hair on the back of your neck.” The Cincinnati Enquirer wrote, “Lester Lynch made a superb Macbeth, delivering an authoritative performance with a firm, powerful voice and wonderfully communicating both tragedy and madness.”
His most recent performances include Lescaut in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle with the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Crown in Porgy and Bess with the Opéra de Montréal, as Amonasro in Verdi’s Aida with Pittsburgh Opera, as Carbon in Cyrano de Begerac with San Francisco Opera, as Herald in Lohengrin with Lyric Opera of Chicago, as Gérald in Andrea Chénier with the Bregenzer Festspiele, as Nottingham in Roberto Devereaux and Count Di Luna in Il Trovatore with Minnesota Opera. His latest debuts include a back-to-back engagement with the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian in Portugal where he was featured as Iago in Verdi’s Otello and in the title role of Verdi’s Falstaff.
Upcoming performances include Nabucco with the Welsh National Opera, Amonasro with the Bergen National Opera in Norway, and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice with the Warsaw National Opera. Upcoming recordings include Iago in Verdi’s Otello, Porgy in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and a Verissimo French Aria CD to be recorded by Pentatone Classics.
Mr. Lynch has worked with some of the world’s most renowned conductors and directors. Under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic, he has sung the role of Crown in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, and the Bauer in Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder. He has also appeared with conductors Sir Andrew Davis, Placido Domingo, Larry Foster, Ulf Schirmer, and John DeMain, and performed under eminent directors Sir Richard Eyre, Christopher Alden and Francesca Zambello.
His performance of Crown with San Francisco Opera ‘s production of Porgy and Bess was recently released on DVD. Pentatone Classics has released his recordings of two operas by the contemporary composer Gordon Getty – the title role in Plumpjack, and Cauchon in Joan and the Bells. Another important release is a recording of Mahler’s Symphony No.8 conducted by JoAnn Falletta.
Mr. Lynch’s regular repertoire includes Amonasro in Verdi’s Aida, Marcello in Puccini’s La Boheme, Germont in Verdi’s La Traviata, Count DiLuna in Trovatore, the tile role of Rigoletto, Iago in Otello, the tile role in Verdi’s Falstaff, Guglielmo in Puccini’s Le Villi, Paolo in Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra, Flint in Britten’s Billy Budd, Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera, Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana, Tonio in I Pagliacci, Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca and the title role in Verdi’s Macbeth.
An accomplished concert artist, Mr. Lynch has performed a wide and varied repertoire with orchestras across the world, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the National Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, and the American Symphony Orchestra. His recent Carnegie Hall solo debut of Karl A. Hartmann’s Gesangsszene with the American Symphony Orchestra received rave reviews.
Mr. Lynch has received many distinguished awards, including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the George London Vocal Competition, and the Sullivan Awards. His work with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis earned him the Richard Gaddes Award.
His recent volunteer work includes two engagements with the Harare International Festival of Art in Zimbabwe in 2012 and 2013 where he produced a night of arias and ensembles with a group of his colleagues.
Jill Gardner sits among today’s leading operatic heroines. Gardner is hailed for her portrayals of the leading ladies of verismo repertoire and Puccini heroines alike. Considered one of the great interpreters of the title role of Tosca, she has performed the role with many opera houses, including Opera Carolina, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Arizona Opera, and Boston Lyric Opera in her role début. This season, Ms. Gardner performs in concert with Tabor Opera House, performs the role of Giorgetta/Santuzza in Tabbaro/Cavalleria Rusticana with Maryland Lyric Opera, and the title role of Tosca with Tri-Cities Opera and Eugene Opera. Last season, Ms. Gardner performed the role of Anna Maurrant in Kurt Weill’s Street Scene with Virginia Opera, Minnie in La fanciulla del West with Maryland Lyric Opera, and Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly with Greensboro Opera. She also performed as Minnie in La fanciulla del West with Virginia Opera, the Marquise of Berkenfield in La fille du Regiment with Hawaii Opera Theatre, and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth with Opera Tampa.
Ms. Gardner has quite a history as a leading lady in opera’s most infamous repertoire. Some highlights from these include the title role of Manon Lescaut with Opera Grand Rapids; Madama Butterfly in her role début with Arizona Opera; Suor Angelica with Opera Carolina; Tatiana in Eugene Onegin with Eugene Opera; Mimì in La bohème with Boston Lyric Opera; Marguerite in Faust with Madison Opera; and Nedda in Pagliacci with Michigan Opera Theatre and her début with Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Andrea Silvestrelli is one of the most sought-after ‘bassi profondi’ on the international opera scene. Garnering critical acclaim for his debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in Rigoletto, the Chicago Sun-Times reported, “There were wild cheers for Andrea Silvestrelli …who brought a terrifying, sepulchral tone to the assassin Sparafucile.” The Chicago Sun concurred, “Andrea Silvestrelli wielded a big, black, menacing bass in his debut as the assassin Sparafucile.”
The current season opens with performances l'Orco in Il Piccolo Marat from Mascagni, with Hagen in Götterdämmerung in a return to the Taichung National Theater in Taiwan, followed by performances of the Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlo with the Dallas Opera and Sparafucile in Rigoletto with Opera San Antonio. Last season, he was Fafner in Siegfried in Taiwan, and Geronte in Manon Lescaut and Pistola in Falstaff with the Dallas Opera. In the 2017-2018 season, Mr. Silvestrelli was heard as Hunding in Die Walküre in Taiwan, returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago as Nourabad in Les pêcheurs de perles and Timur in Turandot, and sang the Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlo with Washington National Opera. In spring 2018, he performed in San Francisco Opera’s Ring Cycle as Fasolt in Das Rheingold and Hagen in Götterdämmerung.
Mr. Silvestrelli’s performances in the 2016-2017 season included Fafner in Das Rheingold with National Taichung Theater, Oroveso in Norma with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Hagen in Götterdämmerung with Houston Grand Opera, and the Commendatore in Don Giovanni and Sparafucile in Rigoletto, both with San Francisco Opera. With SFO in 2015-2016, he sang the role of Wurm in Luisa Miller, The Night Watchman in Die Meistersinger von Nürnburg, Don Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and the Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlo. He also returned to Erl, Austria for performances of the Ring Cycle at the Tiroler Festspiele.
Proving himself a formidable talent and a rising star to watch in the opera world, Tenor Yi Li is quickly gaining attention across the globe. Most recently, Li débuted the role of Cheng Quing in Meredith Monk’s ATLAS with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and moved into bigger repertoire, debuting the role of Dick Johnson in La fanciulla del West in Maryland Lyric Opera’s inaugural season. He subsequently returned there as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor and Turridu/Luigi in Il Tabarro/Cavalleria Rusticana as well as returned to The Metropolitan Opera as the Young Lover in Il tabarro.
Upcoming engagements include a return to Maryland Lyric Opera for Turandot and his debut at Opera Tampa in Cavalleria Rusticana.
Other operatic engagements include the role of Nadir in Les pêcheurs de perles with Toledo Opera; Nicias in Thaïs with China National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing; Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with Intermountain Opera Bozeman, Nashville Opera, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; Cassio in Otello at The National Center Performing Arts in Beijing; the role of Alfredo in La traviata with Finger Lakes Opera; and his performance in Huang Ruo’s innovative contemporary opera, Paradise Interrupted. Mr. Li has also joined the esteemed roster of The Metropolitan Opera for productions of Manon Lescaut, Roméo et Juliette, and Der fliegende Holländer.
Concert engagements include Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with Canterbury Chorale at Carnegie Hall, Indianapolis Opera’s Opera’s Rising Stars Concert and a Chinese New Year Concert with Shenzen Symphony Orchestra at The Kennedy Center.
Mr. Li recently graduated from Washington National Opera’s revered Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program where his assignments included Rodolfo in La bohème and productions of Die Zauberflöte and Dialogues des Carmélites. At San Francisco Opera’s world-renowned Merola Program, assignments included Belfiore in La finta giardiniera, Smith in Bizet’s La jolie fille de Perth, and Lionel in Martha.
Mr. Li’s training includes an Artist Diploma in Voice from University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music (CCM), where he performed Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, and Ruggero in La rondine. During his time there, he also performed The Duke in Rigoletto at Cincinnati Opera and Don José in Carmen at CCM Spoleto Festival. He also holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from Sichuan Conservatory in China, where performances include Alfredo in La traviata, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Rodolfo in La bohème, and Cavradossi in Tosca.
Finding success on the emerging artist competition circuit, Yi Li’s talent has been recognized by several elite foundations and organizations. Mr. Li was a Grand Final Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, a finalist at Operalia: The World Opera Competition, Winner of the Sullivan Musical Foundation Award, China’s representative at the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, 3rd Prize at the Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition, Finalist in the 49th International Singing Competition of Toulouse, and won the Grand Prize in Opera Columbus Irma M. Cooper Vocal Competition and CCM’s Corbett Scholarship Competition. He also received a grant from Giulio Gari Foundation and performed at their annual gala.
Soprano Manli Deng, a native of Chongqing, China, trained as a young artist with the Maryland Lyric Opera Institute. She received her bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. She recently finished her master’s degree in vocal performance at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University and is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.
Recent opera engagements include Helene in Hindemith’s Hin und Zurück, Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Belinda in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Mimì in Puccini’s La Bohème, and Yuqing Hou in the original Chinese national opera Deng Enming. Future credits include returning to Maryland Lyric Opera for the Celestial Voice in Verdi’s Aida in May 2023.
She recently won third place in the Sylvia Green Voice Competition, has been named a finalist in both the Upper Midwest Region and the Middle Atlantic Region of the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition (formerly known as the National Council Auditions).
Tenor Mauricio Miranda has recently performed with MDLO as The Emperor Altoum in Turandot by Puccini, as Il Conte di Lerma in Don Carlo by Verdi, as Don Curzio in Le nozze di Figaro by Mozart, and as Joe in La fanciulla del West by Puccini. His future roles with MDLO include The Judge in Un ballo in maschera and Doctor Caius in Falstaff by Verdi.
During his career, Miranda has performed at the Kennedy Center, Strathmore Music Center, Palacio Euskalduna and Teatro La Laboral (Spain); Teatro Goldoni (Italy), Teatro Municipal de Santiago (Chile), among others. His oratorio repertoire includes works by Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Mozart, Rossini, Beethoven and Schubert, and he has given concerts in Chile, Argentina, Peru, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain and the United States. He performed with conductors such as Louis Salemno, Dimitry Jurowsky, Jan Latham-Koenig, Roberto Rizzi-Brignoli, and Daniele Rustioni; and directors such as Emilio Sagi, Anne Bogart, Hugo de Ana and Jean Louis Grinda. Miranda has sung Mozart's Requiem at the Washington National Cathedral, and the role of Eros in the U.S. premiere of Debussy's opera Diane au bois. His soloist career began in South America, and he continued his training in Europe and North America with Bruno Pola in Germany, Isabel Penagos in Spain and Diana Soviero in the U.S.
He graduated from the Cafritz Young Artist Program at the Washington National Opera. Miranda received his degree in Music Theory from the National Conservatory of the University of Chile and was the winner of the prestigious FONDART scholarship.
José Sacín, Peruvian Baritone and Artistic Director of Opera NOVA, has performed in companies such as The Washington National Opera, Opera Delaware, Caramoor Festival, Opera Camerata of Washington, Teatro Municipal de Lima, Mediterranean Opera Festival, Maryland Lyric Opera, Auditorio Nacional de Madrid and the Rachmaninov Hall in Moscow, Teatro Nacional de San Jose, Opera North and the Baltimore Opera. Main opera roles include Scarpia in Tosca, Giorgio Germont in La Traviata, Dr. Bartolo in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore, Tonio in Pagliacci, Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana, Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola, Marcello in La Bohème, Count Di Luna in Il Trovatore, Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte, Vidal in Luisa Fernanda and the title roles in Gianni Schicchi, Don Giovanni, Macbeth, Falstaff and Rigoletto. Sacin is very active in the recital stage performing Schubert’s Winterreise, Schumann’s Dichterliebe and programs of Latin American Art Songs and Italian Art Songs. He appears in the Naxos recording of Ramirez’s Misa Criolla with the Choral Arts of Washington.
As a conductor, Sacin has performed in Hansel and Gretel, La Cenerentola, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Treemonisha, Die Zauberflöte, Verbena de la Paloma, Monkey See Monkey Do and El Barberillo de Lavapies.
Renowned for his versatility, musical depth, and ability to “inspire musicians,” Joseph Colaneri is recognized as a multifaceted presence on the podium. An international conductor equally adept with operatic, oratorio and symphonic repertoire, Colaneri continues to expand his relationships with orchestras and opera companies both nationally and abroad.
Music Director of the acclaimed Glimmerglass Festival since 2013, Mo. Colaneri has led a diverse range of repertoire there including Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen, Donizetti’s L’assedio di Calais, Bernstein’s Candide and John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles along with classics La traviata, La bohème and Il barbiere di Siviglia.
In the 2019-2020 season, Maestro Colaneri made debuts at San Diego Opera with Verdi’s Aïda and l’Opéra Royale de Versailles leading John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles. The special 2020 virtual season at The Glimmerglass Festival saw him as presenter of a series of master classes for their Young Artists program, music director for an animated version of Wagner’s Die Feen and lecturer for a six-part YouTube series, Keeping Time with Colaneri focused on the history and understanding of opera.
He has been a frequent guest at the Metropolitan Opera since 1998 where he recently led Boïto’s Mefistofele and Bellini’s Norma. In addition he has conducted performances of La bohème (company debut, 2000), Luisa Miller, Turandot with Andrea Gruber and Rigoletto in the popular Metropolitan Opera Parks performances, L’italiana in Algeri with Olga Borodina, Nabucco featuring Maria Guleghina at Lincoln Center, Falstaff with Bryn Terfel in the title role, Il trittico, La fille du régiment with Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez, and Mary Zimmerman’s new production of Lucia di Lammermoor, also with Natalie Dessay in the title role. During the 2009-2010 season, he replaced James Levine for the Metropolitan’s new Luc Bondy production of Tosca, including the worldwide HD transmission and DVD for EMI. During the 2011-2012 season he led performances of Don Pasquale.
From 2012-2014, Colaneri was in Australia as Artistic Director of the West Australian Opera, where he led productions of Otello, Il trovatore, La bohème, Madama Butterfly, La traviata and Il barbiere di Siviglia.
Among the distinguished opera companies with which Colaneri has guested are the Teatro Colón, Den Norske Opera, Atlanta Opera, Portland Opera and Chautauqua Opera. Orchestral guesting credits of note include leading the Tokyo Philharmonic in a concert program of opera arias and musical theater selections starring soprano Renée Fleming, which was telecast throughout Asia by the NHK; conducting Jianyi Zhang and Richard Zeller in an opera highlights program with the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan in Taipei; conducting an ‘All-Devils concert’ in Orlando, Florida starring bass Samuel Ramey; conducting the prestigious Richard Tucker Gala at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in a celebrated Gay Men’s Health Crisis benefit at Avery Fisher Hall.
A stalwart champion of young artists and audience outreach from the beginning of his career, Mo. Colaneri has served as guest artist in residence at the Juilliard School, the Seiji Ozawa Music Academy, Rice University and the San Francisco Opera Center. He was Music Director of the New York City Opera National Company (the touring arm) early on, producing and conducting national productions of La fille du régiment, Tosca, Carmen, Madama Butterfly, Il barbiere di Siviglia, La traviata, and La bohème, as well as frequently conducting productions for the Western Opera Theater and the San Francisco Opera’s Merola program, among them La traviata, Rigoletto, Die Fledermaus, Gianni Schicchi and Suor Angelica. As Artistic Director of the Opera Program at the Mannes School of Music in New York for 20 years, Mo. Colaneri guided emerging artists as they prepared for the demands of professional careers. Building on the success of the annual opera scenes program at the Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse in New York, in 2004 Colaneri initiated fully-staged productions, which he conducted. The students of Mannes received outstanding praise from The New York Times. “People in the opera world often ask: Where are all the good, healthy young voices? Here's an answer: at the Mannes College of Music... Credit goes to Joseph Colaneri, the evening's conductor, who has been the director of the Mannes Opera since 1998. If this is the kind of work he does here, the program should be getting even more attention.” He has been recognized for his work with emerging artists with awards from the Gerda Lissner Foundation and the Licia Albanese - Puccini Foundation.
Joseph Colaneri was honored by New York City Opera with its Julius Rudel Award during the 1994 season. Beginning with his New York City Opera debut conducting South Pacific in 1987, he led over 60 performances of Il barbiere di Siviglia, La bohème, Carmen, Rigoletto, Tosca, La traviata, The New Moon and The Merry Widow. Highlights of his work at City Opera include the highly acclaimed 1993 world premiere of Hugo Weisgall’s Esther, and the 1995 American Premiere of Toshiro Mayuzumi's opera Kinkakuji: The Temple of the Golden Pavilion.
A frequent speaker on opera, Mr. Colaneri leads an annual lecture series for The Metropolitan Opera Club and has served as guest lecturer for the Metropolitan Opera Guild and the Los Angeles Opera League and has taught an annual series of Saturday Opera Seminars at New York University.
A graduate of New York University and Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, from which he received a Master of Music degree, and the 1994 Distinguished Alumnus Award, Joseph Colaneri began his professional music career as an organist and choral conductor. He made his opera debut as Chorus Master of the New Jersey State Opera and continued his choral conducting career as Chorus Master of the New York City Opera before moving into the operatic and orchestral arenas. Mr. Colaneri began his career as a conductor with the New York City Opera (NYCO), a post he held for eleven years (1987-1998), and served as Music Director of NYCO’s touring arm, the New York City Opera National Company, from 1991-1998. From 1995-1996 Mr. Colaneri served as Acting Music Director of New York City Opera. Mr. Colaneri resides in the New York City area with his family.
Dedicated to the next generation of opera singers, Colaneri served as Artistic Director of Opera at the Mannes School of Music at The New School in New York City. During his tenure as Artistic Director of the West Australian Opera from 2012-2014 he led the company's mainstage productions and revitalized their Young Artists Program by creating expanded study opportunities in New York City.
Stage director David Gately is known for his vivid story-telling and lively and clever productions. Recent reviews have called his staging “fresh, amusing and energetic,” and praised his direction which used “nuance and creative physical comedy, resulting in a superb production brimming with energy.”
The Director’s hugely successful “Wild West” production of Don Pasquale which was hailed as a “contemporary classic” by the Denver Post has been mounted by San Diego Opera, Kentucky Opera, Opera Colorado, Calgary Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Virginia Opera, Dayton Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Opera Omaha, Edmonton Opera and the Fort Worth Opera. In addition to these performances, the last several seasons are highlighted by productions of La Traviata with The Academy of Vocal Arts and Atlanta Opera, Cosi Fan Tutte, Giulio Cesare and Ariadne auf Naxos with Fort Worth Opera, L’Italiana in Algeri with Seagle Music Colony, and Massenet’s Le Portrait de Manon with Boston University’s Fringe Festival.
Career milestones include his staging of L’Elisir d’Amore with Dallas Opera and Atlanta Opera, Madama Butterfly with Seattle Opera, La Boheme with Florida Grand Opera, Carmen in New Orleans, Les Contes D’Hoffman in Edmonton and Tulsa, Die Zauberflote with the Cincinnati and Vancouver Operas, A Midsummer Night’s Dream with both the Florentine Opera and Glimmerglass Opera, Falstaff with Opera Omaha, and Rigoletto with Utah Opera and Arizona Opera. He has directed productions of Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Washington National Opera, Opera Colorado and Manitoba Opera, Simon Boccanegra for its premiere with L’Opera de Montreal, and the World Premiere production of Before Night Falls with the Forth Worth Opera where the Dallas Morning News wrote that he “supplies a physically gripping staging.” In addition, he directed Angels in America with Fort Worth Opera for its North American Premiere, as well as its UK premiere with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Centre in London.
Stuart Duke, Lighting Designer, is delighted to return to MDLO for the 2022-2023 Season. Having lit productions of Puccini's Turandot and Verdi's Don Carlo in the Spring 2022 Season, he has become a regular fixture at Maryland Lyric Opera. Recent designs include The Merry Widow and Il Barbiere di Siviglia for Palm Beach Opera, Fun Home at Weston Playhouse, and Matilda at Walnut Street Theatre.
His regional opera credits include Indianapolis Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia and Opera Memphis. He designed lighting for Kathleen Battle and Grover Washington Jr. in concert at Carnegie Hall and for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Yuletide Celebration. In New York, Stuart has designed lighting for Orwell in America, The Rothschilds, Cast of Characters, Home Games, The Matchmaker, Frankie (directed by George Abbott) and jon & jen.
His regional credits include the world premiere of The Night Seasons, written and directed by Horton Foote,, a revival of Rags for the Paper Mill Playhouse, and Christopher Lloyd in Death of a Salesman. Stuart has been nominated three times for the Helen Hayes Award for his work at D.C.'s Studio Theatre and Folger Shakespeare Theatre.
|Servant to Macbeth / Herald:
Acts I and II
Groups of witches gather in a wood beside a battlefield, exchanging stories of the “evils” they have done. The victorious generals Macbeth and Banco enter. The witches hail Macbeth as Thane of Glamis (a title he already holds by inheritance), Thane of Cawdor, and king “hereafter.” Banco is greeted as “lesser than Macbeth, but greater”, never a king himself, but the progenitor of a line of future kings. The witches vanish, and messengers from the king appear naming Macbeth Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth protests that the holder of that title is still alive, but the messengers reply that the former Thane has been executed as a traitor. Banco, mistrusting the witches, is horrified to find that they have spoken the truth. In a duet, Macbeth and Banco muse that the first of the witches’ prophecies has been fulfilled. Macbeth ponders how close he is to the throne, and whether fate will crown him without his taking action, yet dreams of blood and treachery: while Banco ponders on whether the minions of Hell will sometimes reveal an honest truth in order to lead one to future damnation. Lady Macbeth reads a letter from her husband telling of the encounter with the witches. She is determined to propel Macbeth to the throne – by fair means or foul. Lady Macbeth is advised that King Duncan will stay in the castle that night; she is determined to see him killed. When Macbeth returns she urges him to take the opportunity to kill the King. The King and the nobles arrive and Macbeth is emboldened to carry out the murder, but afterwards is filled with horror. Disgusted at his cowardice, Lady Macbeth completes the crime, incriminating the sleeping guards by smearing them with Duncan’s blood and planting on them Macbeth’s dagger. Macduff arrives for an appointment with the King, while Banco stands guard, only for Macduff instead to discover the murder. He rouses the castle while Banco also bears witness to the fact of Duncan’s murder. The chorus calls on God to avenge the killing.
Macbeth is now king: Duncan’s son Malcolm has fled the country, suspicion having conveniently fallen on him for his father’s murder: but Macbeth is still disturbed by the prophecy that Banco, not he, will found a great royal line. To prevent this he tells his wife that he will have both Banco and his son murdered as they come to a banquet. A gang of murderers lie in wait. Banco, sensing danger shares his misgivings with his son. The murderers attack and stab him to death, but his son escapes. Macbeth receives the guests and Lady Macbeth sings a brindisi (Si colmi il calice / “Fill up the cup”). The assassination is reported to Macbeth, but when he returns to the table the ghost of Banco is sitting in his place. Macbeth raves at the ghost and the horrified guests believe he has gone mad. Lady Macbeth manages to calm the situation once – and even mocks it by calling for a toast to the absent Banco (whose death is not yet public knowledge), only for the ghost to appear a second time and terrify Macbeth into insanity again. Macduff resolves to leave the country, saying it is ruled by a cursed hand and only the wicked may remain: the other guests are terrified by Macbeth’s talk of ghosts, phantoms and witches. The banquet ends abruptly with their hurried, frightened departure.
Acts III and IV
The witches gather around a cauldron in a dark cave. Macbeth enters and they conjure up three apparitions for him. The first advises him to beware of Macduff. The second tells him that he cannot be harmed by a man ‘born of woman’. The third that he cannot be conquered till Birnam Wood marches against him. Macbeth is then shown the ghost of Banco and his descendants, eight future Kings of Scotland, verifying the original prophecy. He collapses, but regains consciousness in the castle. The act ends with Macbeth recovering and resolving to assert his authority. A herald announces the arrival of the Queen. Macbeth tells his wife about his encounter with the witches and they resolve to track down and kill Banco’s son, as well as Macduff (of whose flight they do not yet know) and his family.
Scottish refugees stand near the English border. In the distance lies Birnam Wood. Macduff is determined to avenge the deaths of his wife and children at the hands of the tyrant. He is joined by Malcolm, the son of King Duncan, and the English army. Malcolm orders each soldier to cut a branch from a tree in Birnam Wood and carry it as they attack Macbeth’s army. They are determined to liberate Scotland from tyranny. A doctor and a servant observe the Queen as she walks in her sleep, wringing her hands and attempting to clean them of blood. She raves about the deaths of both Duncan and Banco, and even about the deaths of Macduff’s family, and that all the perfumes of Arabia would not clean the blood off her hands: all are things that the horrified witnesses would never dare to repeat to any living man. Macbeth has learned that an army of Scottish rebels backed by England is advancing against him, but is reassured by remembering the words of the apparitions, that no man born of woman can harm him. However, in an aria he contemplates the fact that he is already hated and feared: there will be no compassion, honour and love for him in his old age even if he wins this battle, nor kind words on a royal tomb, only curses and hatred. He receives the news of the Queen’s death with indifference. Rallying his troops he learns that Birnam Wood has indeed come to his castle. Battle is joined. Macduff pursues and fights Macbeth who falls wounded. He tells Macbeth that he was not “born of woman” but “untimely ripped” from his mother’s womb. Macbeth responds in anguish and the two continue fighting, then disappear from view. Macduff returns indicating to his men that he has killed Macbeth. He then turns to Malcolm, hailing him as King. The scene ends with a hymn to victory sung by bards, soldiers, and Scottish women. Malcolm as King, and Macduff as hero, together swear to restore the realm to greatness.