What’s On: Macbeth in Concert (Opera Queensland)

Macbeth in Concert

9 – 11 March 2023

QPAC Concert Hall, South Bank

Giuseppe Verdi’s thrilling version of Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy, Macbeth, will open Opera Queensland’s 2023 season.

Macbeth in Concert will be led by a cast of Australian singers, including the acclaimed Opera Queensland Chorus, baritone José Carbó making his debut as Macbeth, Anna Louise-Cole making her Brisbane debut as Lady  Macbeth and Rosario La Spina as Macduff. Laura Hansford directs the new concert production with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) under the baton of Chief Conductor Umberto Clerici. 

Opera Queensland CEO & Artistic Director Patrick Nolan said: “It is thrilling to program an opera as musically rich and relevant as Macbeth. And, In Jose Carbo, Anna-Louise Cole and Rosario La Spina, we have some of the finest Verdi singers in the country, bringing to life a story of self-serving power that has a lot to say to our time.” 

The concert production of Macbeth represents a full-circle moment in the career of director Laura Hansford. The first opera she worked on was Opera Queensland’s 2012 production of Macbeth, directed by Lindy Hume and staged at QPAC’s Concert Hall. 

“My intention is not to necessarily contemporise this piece but to question what makes this story relevant in 2023; a story written by Shakespeare in the early 1600s, reinterpreted by Verdi in 1847 – the golden age of opera – then given to me in 2023,” Ms Hansford said. “At its core, Macbeth is a story about political upheaval and a lust for power. Ten years ago, it had a completely different taste and feel. Everybody knows Macbeth and knows their version of events; everybody sees their own villain in this piece and it’s important to keep that open. I want to create a space where we begin to question what we know of this piece and maybe come away thinking, ‘I didn’t really consider that could be a choice’.” 

She said Verdi’s music drew sharp focus to the intensity of Shakespeare’s famed story about the physical and psychological effects of political ambition on those who seek power. 

“Verdi had a long-standing respect and love for Shakespeare and his music provides a vital sense of place and an insight into the character’s internal conflicts; that sense of being trapped in your mind and consumed by desire.” 

Conductor Umberto Clerici said Verdi’s music displayed unprecedented expressiveness and emotional subtlety requiring great commitment from its singers. 

“The music is unbelievable; it’s music that really lingers. When you think of a young Verdi, you don’t think of something quite as dark as this; there are some genuinely spooky moments,” Clerici said. “Macbeth was the beginning of Verdi’s exploration of Shakespeare’s works, and it was a big challenge to juxtapose the beauty of the singing with something more theatrical. For this production, I encourage the singers to surrender themselves to the characters and the story and really push the gas on expressivity.” 

For ticketing and further information, visit the Opera Queensland website

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