IN: News & Features

Restoration-Era Macbeth Weaves Magic in Song 


In Restoration England, Shakespeare’s Macbeth took a musical turn. Adapting the play to fit it to the times, Sir William Davenant infused Shakespeare classic tragedy with additional songs, particularly for the witches who lyrically weaved their magic on stage. The Henry Purcell Society will be performing A Restoration Era Macbeth, featuring music by John Eccles (with added music by Purcell, of course!) on June 11, 8pm at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul at 138 Tremont St. in Boston.

Davenant’s Restoration era Macbeth is rarely performed today, but it was the most popular version of the play at the end of the 17th century and throughout the 18th. Samuel Pepys, the great diarist of Restoration society and culture, attended the production several times and responded approvingly in his diary:

…to the Duke’s house, and saw Macbeth, which, though saw it lately, yet appears a most excellent play in all respects, but especially in divertissement, though it be a deep tragedy; which is a strange perfection in a tragedy, it being most proper here, and suitable. The mix of music and tragedy is uncommon but struck a perfect chord in this performance. 

Singers Emily Marvosh, David Thomas Mather and Emily Siar will be making their debuts as The Witches with the Henry Purcell Society, with special guest Teresa Wakim, singing a mad song as Lady Macbeth. Stage director Kirsten Z Cairns (founder and Artistic Director of Enigma Chamber Opera); says, ‘As an ardent lover of Shakespeare, I’m excited to explore this Restoration version of his work. What a late 17th century crowd loved to see in Macbeth is not what 21st century audiences expect; but I’m finding myself charmed and won over by the exuberant style of the period.’  

Benjamin Evett and Natalya Baldyga play the Macbeths, and Nicholas Heath Morgan and Amanda Gann will play opposite them as the Macduffs. Original narration by Laurence Senelick will include some of Shakespeare’s most famous scenes. Ian Watson will conduct. Tickets HERE.

Comments Off on Restoration-Era Macbeth Weaves Magic in Song