It is one of the great performance ventures for the Teatro Colón and the city, a well-tested crucible for the theatrical arts. Colombians, for the first time, will be able to see a live performance of Verdi’s Macbeth.
“It’s the perfect combination of music and theatre,” says Pietro Rizzo, musical director of the five-night event in the “Theatre of Colombians” and which counts with a national and international cast of operatic virtuosos, the National Symphony Orchestra, Choir of the Opera of Colombia.
This mega-production is in the hands of the award-winning Spanish stage director, Ignacio García. Macbeth at the Colón will be a dual-concept event that switches between Verdi’s 1847 opera and William Shakespeare’s 1611 play. (See show dates for both before.)
The idea to stage Verdi’s 10th opera and Macbeth, the play, materialized when the Ministry of Culture, Teatro Colón, the National Library, and Instituto Caro y Cuervo betted on a big, commemorative project of the 400th anniversary of the deaths of Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes, known as 16/16.
Shakespeare and Cervantes, who died in the same year, are undoubtedly the literary giants of the English- and Spanish-speaking worlds. Religious divisions may have kept their nations at war, but they shared a unique outlook on the world: one which was not flat, but constantly turning, shaped by the power of the imagination, the windmills of dreams, the voice of the enslaved, the estranged, the dethroned.
Two centuries after the death of the bards, the son of a modest Italian family was so taken by Shakespeare that he began to put music to his plays. It was also a way to affirm his solidarity with the Risorgimento, the unification of Italy, whose provinces were held by Spain, France, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
For Verdi, Macbeth represented a theme close to the Italian heart: breaking the tyranny of foreign rule. Where despots would fail, the composer succeeded. He wrote an opera in which justice triumphs over evil. Macbeth premiered at Florence’s Theatre de la Pergola with great success.
The first-ever Colombian production casts big names and their outstanding talent. Dimitra Theodossiou plays Lady Macbeth, Bulgarian baritone Vladimir Stoyanov takes on Macbeth, Spanish tenor Sergio Escobar is the avenging hero Macduff, and Colombia’s Valeriano Lanchas becomes Banquo.
For soprano Theodossiou, the chance to play the conscience-embattled heroine marks another milestone in her critically acclaimed career. “I am known for roles such as Norma, Medea, and Lady Macbeth” said Dimitra. “The role is fascinating, as it reveals a profound evil. Everyone has these aspects in their personalities.”
She is also thrilled to feature in the opera’s Colombian debut. “I am very honoured to be a part of this. It’s a great responsibility.”
Some 700 artists — musicians, actors, acrobats, dancers, and set designers — have made both the play and opera a reality for Bogotá. The night following the opera’s debut, Macbeth, the play, takes center stage in a co-production between the Colón and the Bogotá-based Compañia Estable theatre company.
Writer Joe Broderick adapted the work to Spanish, while Pedro Salazar directs a homegrown cast of actors.
For actor Diego León Hoyos, Broderick’s translation brings Shakespeare home. “It is familiar and accessible to the public,” he said. “It does not lose its power.”
Marcela Benjumea, Christian Ballesteros, Andres Estrada and Ernesto Benjumea have also been cast. Laura Villegas was given the challenging task of artistically directing the two-hour tragedy and four-act opera.
Two separate genres are united by amazing talent and the determination of the Teatro Colón to put all its gadgets into a world-class production.
“I almost consider this our real inauguration,” stated Manuel José Álvarez, director of Teatro Colón.
Bogotanos are really getting worked into a frenzy over the Shakespeare/Cervantes celebration. Ticket sales for both opera and play are selling fast. So best set a date and get your tickets online at tuboleta.com or the Colón’s main box office. Performances start at 7:30 p.m.
And bring an umbrella, so you won’t have to recite Lady Macbeth’s infamous line: “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!”
Calle 10 No. 5-32
Opera: April 7, 9, 12, 14, 16
Play: April 8, 9, 13, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24