"If we'd seen that at Glyndebourne we'd have been very angry," said one dodderer to another as they shuffled their way out through the G Stalls bottleneck. I'm not sure why they'd reached that conclusion, but maybe it had something to do with the kilts and cardboard boxes.
The Glyndebourne Festival Opera and the London Philharmonic (conducted by Vladimir Jurowski) had just performed a semi-staged version of Verdi's 1865 opera, which switched to the discarded 1847 ending for Macbeth's death scene. It was the first of this season's Proms that I have attended that was close to a sell-out.
As ever the audience was generally close to (and in some cases well past) their sell-by date. During the interval they hovvered around like unpredictable human obstacles looking for things to fiddle with.
I'd not seen (or heard) this opera before, and whilst Otello has in a way added to my appreciation of Shakespeare's story, I'm not so sure in this case. Macbeth is probably my favourite of the tragedies, but it is very dark − there's not a single moment of unadulterated joy − and for the first couple of acts it seemed to me that Verdi had struggled to compose the appropriate soundtrack for the malignant turmoil inside the heads of the usurper and his wife. The balletic third act nevertheless provides an original twist on the source scenes.
Most of the cast and chorus were in dayglo tartan, the kind that you'd expect to come across as the uniform of a new Scottish no-frills carrier. The witches and assassins meanwhile were got up like the folk with whom I shared a bus-shelter in Paisley last month.
(Andrzej Dobber − pictured − sang the lead.)
TC tells me that in the original Glyndebourne production "the choir is inside a caravan, that arrives from nowhere (and with no recognizable purpose) and keeps coming in and out in order to sing." A caravan full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. They'd certainly have been angry about that.