Verdi’s Macbeth

Performance Dates:
February 18, 21, 24
March 01, 04, 06, 09

Background of the opera

Verdi’s lifelong love affair with Shakespeare first took wing with Macbeth in 1847. The composer thought the play ‘one of the greatest creations of man’ and, along with his librettist Piave, set out to make of it ‘something out of the ordinary’ on the operatic stage.

Musically, Verdi’s masterstrokes were the macabre choruses for the witches, evocative orchestral colours and the significantly increased role for the ‘ugly and evil’ Lady Macbeth. Although Verdi later revised the opera in 1865 for Paris, his earlier, more unified incarnation of the opera is used here for this revival of Phyllida Lloyd’s striking staging of apparitions and conspiratorial darkness.

Thomas Hampson and Violeta Urmana play the Scottish nobleman and his villainously ambitious wife, who spurs her husband to murder for the sake of his career. American bass-baritone John Relyea takes the role of Banquo, murder victim and symbol of conscience, while The Royal Opera is fortunate to have as conductor Yakov Kreizberg, making one of his few operatic appearances and his debut with the Royal Opera House.

Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Designs: Anthony Ward

Macbeth: Thomas Hampson
Banquo: John Relyea
Lady Macbeth: Violeta Urmana
Lady-in-waiting: Elizabeth Woollett
Macduff (February): Joseph Calleja
Macduff (March): Gwyn Hughes-Jones
Malcolm: Andrew Stritheran
Doctor: Robert Gleadow


A filmed performance of Opernhaus Zurich’s innovative 2001 staging of Verdi’s Macbeth is available on DVD. It features baritone Thomas Hampson in the lead, backed by Paoletta Marrocu as the obsessed Lady Macbeth. The performance also features stage design by Stefanos Lazarois and direction by David Pountney. The performance is conducted by Franz Welser-Möst.

Product Description

This hard-edged postmodern production of Giuseppe Verdi’s haunting masterpiece brings the story of Shakespeare’s bloody tragedy to vivid life, characterized by spine-tingling atmospherics and a triumphant debut by American baritone Thomas Hampson in the title role. This Zurich Opera House production also features a mesmerizing turn by Paoletta Marrocu as the beautiful, power-hungry Lady Macbeth, while striking sets and costumes further enhance the duality of the main character whose rise and fall mirror the darkest impulses of man. Replete with supernatural mystery, sexual tension, and violent power plays, this timeless story remains gripping and chilling for today’s audiences and boasts some of the most astonishing music of Verdi’s legendary body of work. Conducted by Franz Welser-Most.

Buy the DVD online