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Introduction

The warrior Macbeth fights on the side of the King of Scotland – but when a coven of witches prophesy that he shall become king himself, the ruthless ambition of Macbeth and his wife drives them to horrific acts.

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Background

Verdi's life-long love affair with Shakespeare’s works began with Macbeth, a play he considered to be 'one of the greatest creations of man'. With his librettist Francesco Maria Piave Verdi set out to create 'something out of the ordinary'. Their success is borne out in every bar of a score that sees Verdi at his most theatrical. It bristles with demonic energy – particularly in the devilishly difficult role of Lady Macbeth.

Phyllida Lloyd's 2002 production for The Royal Opera is richly-hued, shot through with black, red and gold. The witches – imagined by designer Anthony Ward as strange scarlet-turbaned creatures – are ever-present arbiters of the action. Lloyd depicts Lord and Lady Macbeth's childlessness as the dark sadness lurking behind their terrible deeds. The Royal Opera’s production uses Verdi's 1865 Paris revision of the opera, which includes Lady Macbeth's astounding aria 'La luce langue'.