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Teatro Regio’s Macbeth review at Festival Theatre, Edinburgh – ‘blessed with musical power but lacks detail’

Anna Pirozzi and Dalibor Jenis in Teatro Regio Torino's Macbeth at the Edinburgh International Festival. Photo: Ramella and Giannese Anna Pirozzi and Dalibor Jenis in Teatro Regio Torino's Macbeth at the Edinburgh International Festival. Photo: Ramella and Giannese
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The Edinburgh International Festival opened its opera offering in 1947 with Verdi’s magnificent Macbeth, so it is only fitting that Emma Dante’s well-endowed production for Teatro Regio Torino should be at the heart of the EIF’s 70th-anniversary season.

This production is particularly blessed with musical ability, notably from Anna Pirozzi, who is an utterly commanding Lady Macbeth. Hers is a voice you would not cross swords with, and her appearance on horseback to take Dalibor Jenis’ in-thrall Macbeth from his second encounter with the witches simply reinforces her status.

It is even better endowed on the production front, with an onstage cast including choruses of actors and dancers as well as singers. Rather than numbering just three, the witches are represented by a multitude of hair-tossing women, bored while they are impregnated by a gang of satyrs in the opening scene. They are equally disdainful in Act III as they birth their babies direct into cauldrons so they might turn into more sorcerers.

Chorus in Macbeth. Photo: Ramella and Giannese

This reinforces the contrast between the witches’ fertility and Lady Macbeth’s barrenness. The former’s disdain juxtaposed with the Macbeths’ lust to direct the future is the production’s driving motif.

Scotland this is not, however. Birnam Wood is a cactus grove of prickly pears and there is a sumptuous, magical-realism feel to Carmine Maringola’s design, which features a glittering, spear-like motif that serves to draw war, religion and state together.

Dante has created opera as big spectacle, which feels designed for an arena setting. Seen in closer view, however, all that burnished opulence loses some of its lustre. Its strokes are bold and broad, but its details are not punctilious.

Verdict
Stadium opera squeezed on to a big stage has power but lacks detail
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