After Opera Australia’s visually extravagant Aida and vocally spectacular Ernani, Melbourne Opera delivers the city’s third Verdi production in less than two weeks. This independent company has nowhere near the budget of its national rival, so those lucky enough to see all three might expect to be at least a little disappointed by Macbeth. On the contrary, this new production is a very satisfying, sometimes exciting operatic experience. Directed by Bruce Beresford, who is best known for films but has numerous operas in his CV, it’s loaded with talent – most obviously some excellent singers.

Melbourne Opera
Melbourne Opera’s  Macbeth. Photo © Robin Halls

Premiering in Florence in 1847, Verdi’s Macbethclosely follows Shakespeare’s familiar tale of murderous ambition in Ye Olde Scotland – though the composer’s penchant for choruses means the three witches and two assassins are generously multiplied.

This production sticks with the traditional antique Scottish setting. From the witches’ motley garb to gracious, flowing lines at court, Greg Carroll has dressed the large cast in mostly earthy tones, plus rich red and purple velvet for the titular royal power...