Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Opera and theatre combine for compelling show


Issued by The NBR New Zealand Opera

16 August 2010

Opera and theatre combine for compelling entertainment

Verdi wrote of Shakespeare’s play Macbeth: “This tragedy is one of the greatest of human creations! If we do not manage to make something truly grand of it, at least let us try to do something out of the ordinary.” Driven by a faithfulness to the spirit of Shakespeare, Verdi created a work that was propelled as a drama as much as it was as an opera. As such, it calls for outstanding singers who are also compelling actors, who at a pinch could be cast at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The NBR New Zealand Opera’s Genesis Energy season of Macbeth is a restaging of Tim Albery’s award-winning production, created for Opera North in the UK in 2008. In that production, as with its New Zealand staging, Italian soprano Antonia Cifrone sings Lady Macbeth. Accolades for her 2008 portrayal of Macbeth’s infamous spouse ranged from “commanding vocally and dramatically, but not at the expense of a certain seductiveness” [The Independent] to “the most convincing and musically vivid performer of the role I have seen” [Spectator].

General Director of The NBR New Zealand Opera Aidan Lang says “Lady Macbeth has greater prominence in the opera than she does in the play, and hers is a very difficult role. It demands a dramatic soprano with huge intensity as a performer, both dramatically and vocally, while also requiring of her moments of vocal grace and elegance. The two don’t necessarily go hand in hand, but Antonia Cifrone is uniquely suited to this role. She will do justice to the contrasting, almost contradictory demands the role brings.”

The vocal and dramatic intensity required of the singers doesn’t stop with Lady Macbeth. For Romanian Michele Kalmandi, the great baritone role of the haunted Macbeth is one he relishes. His portrayal last year for Royal Swedish Opera was met with high praise, describing his baritone as “strong, penetrating, rich and coloured and he has a wonderful sense of line. Each of Macbeth’s big scenes and arias were cleverly characterised by both physical and vocal means.” Alongside him, New Zealand-born Jud Arthur, whose resounding bass is well known to local audiences, is Banquo, and returning following his exciting portrayal of Lensky in 2009’s Eugene Onegin, Russian tenor Roman Shulackoff is Macduff. New Zealand’s emerging opera talent fills the remaining principal roles with tenor Derek Hill as Malcolm, soprano Morag Atchison as the Lady-in-Waiting, and baritone Matthew Landreth as the Doctor.

The first of Verdi’s three Shakespeare operas, Macbeth is the classic tale of ambition, corruption and bloody revenge, illustrating with shocking clarity the trail of death and destruction caused by an unbridled lust for power. “This is an example of enthralling operatic drama at its very best,” Lang says. “And as the essence of this production is a seamless melding of opera with drama, don’t be surprised if you come away from this opera thinking that you’ve just seen a sung version of the actual play.”

Genesis Energy Season of Macbeth

Opera in Four Acts by Giuseppe Verdi

Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave and additions by Andrea Maffei

Based on Shakespeare’s play of the same name

An Opera North production; Sung in Italian with English surtitles


Conductor Guido Ajmone-Marsan

Director Tim Albery

Associate Director & Movement Director Maxine Braham

Assistant Director Steven Anthony Whiting

Set Designer Johan Engels

Costume Designer Brigitte Reiffenstuel

Lighting Designer Bruno Poet

Lighting realised by Jason Morphett


Macbeth Michele Kalmandi

Lady Macbeth Antonia Cifrone

Banquo Jud Arthur

Macduff Roman Shulackoff

Malcolm Derek Hill+

Lady-in-waiting Morag Atchison

Doctor Matthew Landreth+

With the Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus

Accompanied by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and the Vector Wellington Orchestra

+ NBR New Zealand Opera Resident Artist

Genesis Energy season of Macbeth

Auckland – Aotea Centre, THE EDGE

Sat 18, Thu 23, Sat 25 September (7.30pm), Tue 21 September (6.30pm)

Wellington – St James Theatre

Sat 9, Thu 14, Sat 16 October (7.30pm), Tue 12 October (6pm)

Single Ticket Prices $49.50 to $187.50. Concessions available for senior citizens, students and group bookings. Service fees apply.

Bookings: The NBR NZ Opera Box Office, Tel (09) 379 4068 or (04) 499 8343, or:

Wellington: Ticketek, Tel 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 538) or

Auckland: The Edge, Tel 0800 BUYTICKETS (0800 289 842) or

Further information:

The NBR New Zealand Opera receives core funding from Creative New Zealand


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman'

The Guardian needed not one, but three reviews to do justice to Fennell's unsettling approach, which indicates exactly how ambiguous and controversial its message really is. More>>

Howard Davis: Jill Trevelyan's Rita Angus

Although Angus has become one of Aotearoa’s best-loved painters, the story of her life remained little known and poorly understood before Jill Trevelyan's acclaimed and revelatory biography, which won the Non Fiction Award at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards in 2009, and has now been republished by Te Papa press. More>>

Howard Davis: The Back of the Painting

Painting conservators are the forensic pathologists of the art world. While they cannot bring their subjects back to life, they do provide fascinating insights into the precise circumstances of a painting's creation, its material authenticity, and constructive methodology. More>>

Howard Davis: Black Panthers on the Prowl

A passionate and gripping political drama from Shaka King, this is an informative and instructive tale of human frailty that centers around the charismatic Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, who was murdered at the age of twenty-one during a police raid. More>>

Howard Davis: Controlling the High Ground

Stephen Johnson's raw and angry film not only poses important questions with scrupulous authenticity, but also provides a timely reminder of the genocidal consequences of casual bigotry and xenophobia. More>>

Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>

Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland