I was thinking about Verdi’s Macbeth. Verdi really liked Shakespeare. Sometimes this translated into wonderful opera – and sometimes it translated into pretty good but sometimes somewhat weird opera. Macbeth falls into the latter category for me. It was among Verdi’s earlier works, so that is part of what is going on with it. But what I notice most about it whenever I hear it is that sometimes the music appears to part ways with the text.
Here is Iano Tamar singing “Vieni, t’affreta . . .Or tutti sorgete” from Act and “Perché mi sfuggi . . . Trionfai secure alfina” from Act II. Often the next thing after the conversation in “Perche mi sfuggi” is “la luce langue” but here we get a different version. I swear I am not flogging Iano Tamar – this is what came up when I tried to find a video that had this in it.
I usually enjoy “Or tutti sorgete” because this is an aria about summoning the powers of hell, but if you didn’t know that going in you might not guess that this is what it is about. It has a lovely little melodic line that seems to skip along very cheerfully and again, if I were going to summon the powers of darkness, I am not sure that this is precisely how I would do it. But I guess it worked for Lady Macbeth, right?