CULTURE

Timely staging of ‘Macbeth’ at opera house

“When, two years ago, it was decided to bring a production of ‘Macbeth’ to Athens, nobody could imagine the work’s timeliness. Now, with the world anxiously waiting for the outbreak of a war, ‘Macbeth’ represents a deeper anatomy of how power’s mechanism operates in the human soul…,» was how Anastasia Vareli, director of the production, chose to open a news conference ahead of tomorrow’s opening night of the tragedy here in Athens at the National Opera House. The production, a collaborative effort with the Berne Opera, will run for a total of nine performances. Charm The National Opera’s artistic director, Loukas Karytinos, noted at the news conference that the opera «is characterized by its charm,» while also adding: «We decided, with the director, Eike Gramss, to transfer ‘Macbeth’ to somewhere in between a traditional and modern version. It was recently performed at the Berne Opera with great success.» The opera is based on Shakespeare’s tragedy, as transformed into a libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. Guiseppe Verdi completed the opera, in its initial form, in 1847. Greatness embodied «I believe that ‘Macbeth’ presents all the greatness of the Italian composer. It provides particular emphasis on the choir parts and also adds new elements. For example, when she first enters the stage, Lady Macbeth does not sing an aria but reads a letter,» said the production’s maestro, Chrysanthos Alisafis. «Verdi manages to exceed the standards of Italian opera and open new horizons,» he added. The tragedy is set in Scotland during the Middle Ages. Macbeth assumes the throne after a series of killings with assistance from his wife, Lady Macbeth, a determined collaborator, in their bid to exterminate any potential challengers. Witches play an instrumental role in the plot’s development. Everything is derived from them. In predicting future developments, the witches essentially unravel the forces behind the drama. They embody the entire procedure which eventually leads to the fall of Macbeth and his wife. «Victory, ambition, loss of control, change,» is how Vareli described the tragedy’s succession of events in condensed form. Ambition’s perils «Ambition drives Macbeth to commit a series of crimes, which, he emphasizes, are absolutely necessary,» Vareli noted. The production’s stage is plainly set. It is, however, designed to rise and fall in altitude in order to reflect the inner state of the heroes,» noted Eberhard Matthies, the stage designer. American baritone Robert Hyman shares the tragedy’s leading role with local performer Kyros Patsalidis. «This is my Greek year,» said Hyman, referring to a recent performance at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall in its presentation of «Tosca.» «The role is a complex one and, at the same time, extremely simple. Macbeth and his wife have a strong objective, but everybody perceives this differently. Lady Macbeth uses all available means to achieve this. On the contrary, he weighs the pros and the cons, becomes frightened, and wavers in opinion. I need to extract much from within me for this performance,» he added. The stage costumes were designed by Renate Schmitzer, and the lighting design is by Yiannis Theodoridis. The production’s other cast members are Tatiana Sergian, Julia Souglakou and Yiouli Karagouni, all as Lady Macbeth, Dimitris Kavrakos and Constantinos Sfyris as Banquo, and Stamatis Beris, Dimitris Stefanou and Dimitris Sigalos as Macduff. The National Opera House is at 59 Academias Street, tel 210.361.1516. Opens tomorrow. Other performances are scheduled for this Sunday and March 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 26, and 28. All performances begin at 7 p.m.