Macbeth raises the bar high at Buxton International Festival

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Verdi’s original 1847 version of Macbeth was a great choice for the opening of the operatic productions at Buxton International Festival.

The music is wonderful, from the chilling scene setting of the overture through the dark and varied musical encounters which follow.

In this production every aspect lives up to the music.

The set is stark and the costumes unobtrusive, which focuses our attention on the action.

The lighting is innovative and the projection of images onto a gauze curtain heightens the drama.

The singing and acting are impressive throughout. Stephen Gadd’s baritone is just right for the title role and Kate Ladner is cold and powerful in the demanding role of Lady Macbeth. The dynamic between them is threateningly icy. Jung Soo Yun’s lament as Macduff has real tragic beauty. The Buxton chorus is wonderful, as a swirling mass of witches, formal nobles with moving allegiance, murderous drug-powered henchmen or an advancing army they have musical power and superb choreography.

The Northern Chamber Festival Orchestra is excellent, as always, with Stephen Barlow a great source of musical energy as conductor and the festival’s artistic director.

This is opera at its best and not to be missed. Performances are at Buxton Opera House on July 14, 18 and 21.