Arts Review

Macbeth Opening Night

Opera Queensland opens the season by presenting Macbeth to Brisbane audiences this month, and it sets the pace for the season to follow. While Macbeth focuses on themes of greed and corruption, as opposed to the more commonplace themes such as love, lust and loss, this serves as a reminder of the many ways audiences can engage with the medium and allows viewers to experience Shakespeare’s content in a whole new light.


Macbeth, presented in the Concert Hall, QPAC creates an environment for audiences to experience the classic tale in a whole new way. This would not be possible without Conductor Umberto Clerici leading the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, breathing life into this retelling, in addition to the chorus group, dressed in long black cloaks, further emphasizing the climactic points in the narrative, utilizing the full range of their voices to create an eerie dissonance. The staging, as tends to be the case with Opera Queensland, is heavily understated, allowing the viewer to digest the content at their own pace, flicking their eyes between the subtitles and the dimly lit stage below, with key characters emerging from the sides of the stage to take center stage and deliver their lines.


While opera is not the most accessible genre, given the cultural and/or social barriers, it can be another tool to educate younger viewers on historical content, by providing a framework for these audiences to grapple with and understand more complex themes around politics, corruption, greed and betrayal. The performance is lengthy, as tends to be the case with this genre, and although some of the minutia can be missed for those who are not familiar with the source material, it still offers a new perspective on content that has been ‘rinsed and repeated’ time and time again. Looking through the lens of this living and breathing production, this age old tale is spoonfed to you, allowing you to sit with and digest, one mouthful at a time, each character’s unique perspective and struggles. 


This retelling of Macbeth, done in typical Opera Queensland fashion, utilizes modern day technology in combination with the creative direction from Laura Hansford, to provide a platform to engage with historical content and explore ideas that are still relevant to this day. The charm to this production is in the way you are left feeling, the medium challenges viewers to slow down and drink in the surroundings. The outstanding vocal performances, and the evocative depictions of each of the characters, builds empathy with the viewer, as each of the characters can be seen, heard and felt in ways that are simply not possible with any other medium, and with the slow-paced nature of the format, as lengthy as it may be, allows the viewer breathing room to explore the content at their own pace, begging the question “Is there another way I can look at this”? 


Review By: Joanna Letic


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