York Opera picks Verdi’s Macbeth for autumn murders most foul at Theatre Royal

Ian Thomson -Smith’s Macbeth and Sharon Nicholson-Skeggs’s Lady Macbeth in York Opera’s Macbeth

BY the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes to York Theatre Royal next week when York Opera stages Giuseppe Verdi’s Macbeth.

The 19th century Italian composer drew inspiration from Shakespeare several times with three of his greatest operas based on his work.

His first adaptation in 1847 was Macbeth, whose murderous plot offered him a wealth of opportunities, not least two controversial, anti-hero central characters and scope for chorus scenes involving witches (a full ladies’ chorus singing in three parts), courtiers, refugees and soldiers.  

These components all made Macbeth a favourite choice for York Opera’s autumn production at York Theatre Royal. Sung in English, Verdi’s Macbeth stays true to the original play, complete with witches, ghosts, cut-throats and the political scheming of the Scottish court. 

Ian Thomson-Smith’s Macbeth encounters the Three Witches, Anastasia Wilson, left, Kaye Twomlow and Hannah Cahill, in York Opera’s Macbeth

Central to the opera are the roles of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, considered to be Verdi’s greatest baritone and dramatic soprano parts respectively. The infamous couple will be played by two of York Opera’s most experienced singers: Ian Thomson-Smith and Sharon Nicholson-Skeggs.

Supporting them in the other principal roles will be Adrian S Cook as Banquo; Hamish Brown, Macduff; Leon Waksberg, Malcolm; Noah Jackson, Fleance; Owen Williams, Ist Apparition; Victoria Beale, 2nd Apparition; Molly Raine, 3rd Apparition; Polina Bielova, Lady in Waiting; Steve Griffiths, Doctor, and Stephen Wilson, Cutthroat & Servant.

The stage director is John Soper, a long-established and accomplished member of York Opera, who has designed the sets too, now under construction by group members Wielding the baton in the pit will be Derek Chivers, a regular musical director for the company. 

Macbeth will be performed at 7pm on October 18 and 20 and 4pm on October 21, with no performance on October 19. The running time will be three hours, including one interval. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk