Get your tartan ready, Verdi’s Macbeth will take over the stage at Her Majesty’s Theatre next month!
You probably know the story, but here are some fun facts you may not know:
👑 IT’S LOOSELY INSPIRED BY REAL CHARACTERS
The character of Macbeth was loosely based on Mac Bethad mac Findláich, a King of Scotland in the 11th century. However, where the Bard portrays Macbeth’s reign as (spoiler alert) short and bloody, the real king was generally perceived to be quite a successful and fair ruler.
King James I (James VI of Scotland) claimed his ancestry through the Stuart dynasty could be traced back to Banquo, a friend of the real Macbeth. Banquo is depicted in a positive light in the play, which Shakespeare may have done in an effort to please King James. Influential though he was, James was far less popular than his predecessor Elizabeth I, and the backdrop of the Gunpowder Plot against him in 1605 gives a window into the mood of superstition and political tension at the time the play was written.
🤯 VERDI’S OPERA SHOCKED THE AUDIENCE AT THE PREMIERE
…but not because of its gory action. Italian audiences couldn’t believe they were witnessing an “opera senza amore”—an opera without a typical love affair.
🧙♀️ BEWARE OF THE WITCHES
Shakespeare’s play features three witches as “rulers of the drama”, but Verdi chose to represent them with a chorus instead. In our production, you’ll see 18 witches on stage… and boy, they are trouble!
👏 “NO FIASCO”?
In a letter to his estranged wife, Verdi wrote Macbeth was “no fiasco”: what an understatement! On opening night, the composer received no less than 38 (THIRTY-EIGHT!) curtain calls.
🤐 DON’T SPEAK ITS NAME!
Legend has it that a coven of witches set a curse upon Shakespeare for using a real spell within the work, promising disaster to fall upon any production in which someone speaks its name inside the theatre. “The Scottish Play” and “The Bard’s Play” have since become popular alternate titles used by cast members and arts workers. So how can you avoid catastrophe if you utter you-know-what? Exit the theatre, spin around three times, spit, curse and then knock on the theatre door to be allowed back in…
With only four performances, secure your tickets now to avoid missing out.