“Ernest Bloch’s Macbeth” (Chicago Opera Theater): Modern Marvel

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 Permalink

Photo 13Reviewed by Sara Eisenbaum

Chicago Opera Theater presents Ernest Bloch’s Macbeth

Ernest Bloch’s rendition of Macbeth was a modern marvel. Far and away one of the best scores I’ve heard from a play, and no less stunning with the addition of a choir at poignant places throughout the text. I was able to attend the opera without any preconceived notions beyond the high school reading I had done of the play. I previously understood the basic plot of the play but not the real nuances. What made this performance rather unique was how the characters were created with meaningful intention. Macbeth was emotional in a way that the page doesn’t usually reveal. In connecting with the murderous baseline of the text, one often looks to Lady Macbeth and the ‘damn spots’ that are ever present in her vision. It’s easy to point the finger at her as the catalyst for Macbeth’s demise as well as the play’s demise. In the case of this rendition, there is a blurry line that is created. This can be seen with the addition of modern camera work throughout the play. In a juxtaposition of modern and antique, the cameras gave multiple perspectives of characters throughout the production. While Macbeth is contemplating the murder of his competitors, there is behind him a video of his internal reaction that overlays the emotions being brought to the words at the same time. Just reading this text, the implicit emotion behind changing the course of history for Macbeth isn’t really clear. In addition, the witches bring a great amount of modern flair in that their cauldrons are replaced by constant footage of the outsiders in the play. This brought in a great amount of dramatic content since in the original play they weren’t as ever present in the reader’s mind. In addition to the new touch of technology, the scenery was also in many ways very modern. The use of the table as bedroom, dining room table, military attack central, and an area to discuss mystery and intrigue creates an interesting style and voice that permeates in the audience’s mind from beginning to end. These creative touches help to assuage some of the more complicated and messy portions of the play. In many ways when one is trying to update a classic, it must be all in. I think that this production waffled between keeping Shakespeare’s text in its original format while also making it seem outside of ordinary boundaries. Sometimes going back and forth within the same production can be confusing and a little cheesy. However, If this is a first foray into the opera, much like it was for myself, it’s worth it to experience something that is by most means extraordinary.

Presented at Harris Theater: 205 E. Randolph St.

Conducted by Francesco Milioto

Directed by COT General Director Andreas Mitisek

Saturday, September 13th, 7:30pm; Wednesday, September 17th, 7:30pm; Friday, September 19th, 7:30 pm and Sunday, September 21st, 3:00pm.

Buy Tickets at www.chicagooperatheater.org

Production Photo by Liz Lauren

For more information and reviews on Chicago theatre, visit Theatre in Chicago.

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