OperaDelaware’s “Macbeth” a rare treat with witches galore.
All of us are familiar with the dark mood of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” It’s all about murders to the point where one loses track of quite how many people have been done in.
The main target, of course, is King Duncan, but of course, this leads to numerous more assassinations. For lovers of Shakespeare’s play, it is a problem to have it sung in Italian, but Giuseppe Verdi did not speak English. As a result we miss those famous lines like “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!” and “By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes.”
It loses something in translation.
The word “Macbeth,” when meaning the play or the opera, is never spoken in the theatre. It is supposedly bad luck. OperaDelaware had their troubles. The conductor broke his ankle and had to withdraw, even though he was assured that in Delaware Conductors led with their hands. Then one of the lead singers came down with throat trouble and a replacement had to be found.
Giovanni Reggioli was found and led the orchestra at a brisk pace, not too easy a trick with the somber music, keeping a perfect accompaniment with the singers. This area is full of excellent musicians so it was not surprising to see such names as Eliezer Gutman and Martin Beech listed as members of the orchestra.
The set by Peter Tupitza was an unwieldy confluence of tree limbs and branches that were the background for Macbeth’s castle, the meeting of the witches, the witches’ cave, the battlefield and Burnham Wood.
They were quite sturdy as various characters climbed them and walked through without trouble. At dress rehearsal there was still a problem with wheels squeaking as they were moved. I personally would have preferred more light on them as people tended to disappear inside the branches.
OperaDelaware had some truly marvelous voices for this opera that is seldom performed as it requires such powerful singers. Courtney Ames was superb as Lady Macbeth, with a powerful, pleasing voice and was dramatically convincing. Lady Macbeth was supposed to be “Ugly and evil’ and to sound “rough, harsh and gloomy” none of which she could do as she has a face that lights up the stage.
Grant Youngblood was terrific as Macbeth, changing from a somewhat bland national hero into a scheming murderer before our eyes. Strong support was given to them by Ben Wager as the solid Banquo and Toffer Mihalka as Malcolm while Todd Wilander soared as an emotional Macduff.
The cast is clothed in gorgeous court clothes, almost all in earth tones, which would have been practical in the11th century.
The bevy of witches wears diaphanous clothing that appeared to be green and brown in the dim light. They were quite a whirlwind of fabric and long flowing hair as they swirled in front of the set and fire.
This is a rare event to be able to hear Verdi’s “Macbeth.” In today’s economy, an opera company would have trouble producing such a ponderous opera unless like OperaDelaware they have a large group of dedicated volunteers. OperaDelaware will give “Macbeth” this coming weekend on May 10 and 11 at 7:30 p.m. For tickets call The Grand. If you would like to ride the shuttle bus that leaves at DuPont Street parking area call Carin Brastow at 302-658-8063 ext. 3260.
I had full intentions of attending Winterthur’s Point-to-Point, with particular interest in the authentic Wells Fargo Wagon. I intended to inspect it rather thoroughly to see if there were any remaining signs of its earlier history, such as bullet holes or dents from arrows. Alas, this was not to be. I spent the weekend in bed with a killer cold and didn’t get there. Now we may never know.
The Bayard Taylor Home & Garden Tour will be on Saturday, June 1, and it is a stunning collection of historic and imaginative buildings. Someone has accused Chester County of being mostly “barns and buckets” but when you’ve got it, show it. Among the lovely homes on tour is Brooklawn built in the 1700s for the Plunkett Stewart family, now the home of Nancy and Crosby Wood, was enlarged for entertaining, with a ball room, 14 fireplaces, four staircases and 10 baths.
Another fascinating home is that of Frances and Tom Roosevelt that was built in 1730 the first of additions made in 1824. There is also a studio for artist Frances, although this will not be open for the tour. In addition there are six more fascinating stops.
Money raised from the tour is used to pay for the children’s activities at the library that had 10,420 children in the classes last year that included cooking classes, craft making, pumpkin painting etc. The children also borrowed 70,000 books which is heartening when the figure for functionally illiterate unemployed youth in the U.S. is at 50 percent.
Tickets for this lovely tour mostly in Unionville are $35 from the Bayard Taylor Memorial Library. A beautiful fresh lunch will be available at Foxfire Restaurant in the Stone Barn for $20, but you should reserve ahead.
The Art Festival and Plant Sale held in beautiful weather really got us off on a winning streak. Then First Friday with so many special events and foods came. Best of all is the opening of the weekly Friday Farmer’s Market with all the home made goodies and seasonable vegetables. It will be every Friday from 2 to 6 p.m. Let the good times roll!
The Kennett Township Historical Commission invites everyone to come and learn about the historic Barns of Kennett Township on Thursday, May 16 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Kennett Township Building, 801 Burrows Run Road. Architectural historian Seth Hinshaw will speak about the differences in the barns in a free lecture. Also on display will be an exhibit of drawings of the local barns done by artist Marion B. Guthrie who has painted them over many years.
The Brandywine River Museum is offering a series of four art lessons for adults to be given on Wednesdays from 7 to 9 p.m. Each session begins with a guided tour of the gallery before they create their own art. April 10 will concentrate on “The Ides of March” by Andrew Wyeth followed by sketching. May 15 is “Portrait Potpourri,” creating portrait drawings and collages. June 19 is “Building Imagination” with drawings of interesting angles and corners. July 17 is “Landscape Inspiration” with doing a watercolor of the Brandywine landscape.
The cost of each program is $20 and includes art materials. Register by calling 610-388-8326.
Winterthur has announced a landmark purchase of 250,000 printed ephemera of 19th and 20th century Victorian and Edwardian greeting cards, product labels, baseball cards, postcards, calendars, paper dolls sheet music, event tickets etc. These were the Grossman Collection which has resided in the archives at Winterthur since 2008. The articles depict life in America from 1829 to 1920 and make the Winterthur Library an important resource for advanced research. The items will be available to researchers who can access the items on line.
The Delaware Theatre Co. has moved from the big musical “South Pacific” to the one-man comedy written and acted by Steve Solomon, “My Mother is Italian, My Father is Jewish and I’m in Therapy.” This hysterical show ran in New York for two years and has toured internationally in more than 100 cities. If you could use a good laugh, call 302-594-1100 for tickets.
The 40th anniversary spring concert of the Chester County Choral Society will be Brahms’ “A German Requiem” that will be performed Saturday, May 11, at 7:30 p.m. in the Church of the Good Samaritan in Paoli. They will be accompanied by a Chamber Orchestra and have professional soloists.
The Hedgerow Theatre, 64 Rose Valley Road in Media will celebrate their 200th Anniversary this year with a spirited version of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” They have a cast of favorite actors to bring this story of how Mrs. Bennett match makes to find her five unmarried daughters suitable husbands. Performances beginning May 9 will be held Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at2 p.m. Two Wednesday matinees on May 22 and June22 at 2 p.m. will also include a complimentary tea. For reservations call 610-565-4211.
If you haven’t seen a good production of that award winning musical, Grease,” with all those be-bop songs, go to the Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St. The show runs May 14 to July 14. For tickets call 215-574-3550;
The show ”Dino! An Evening with Dean Martin at the Latin Casino” will be at the Walnut Theatre Studio on 3 at 825 Walnut Street through June 23. The story in this world premiere has Dean Martin scheduled to perform at the Latin Casino when a severe blizzard keeps his band out of town. Rather than disappoint his fans, he does a one man show singing many of his more famous and beloved songs like “That’s Amore,” blended with jokes and stories about his life. For tickets call 215-574-3550.
“No” is the story of the how a brash, young advertising executive spearheaded the successful opposition to the re-election of Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1988,nominated for best foreign language film for Academy Awards. May 10 at8 p.m., May 22 at2 and 8 p.m. and May 12 at 2 p.m.
“Room 237” is a documentary of interviews with scholars and fans of Stanley Kubrick’s 30 year old film “The Shining.” The hidden meanings in the film re-explored from government conspiracy to genocide. May 10 at2 p.m., May 11 at 8 p.m. and May 12 at5 p.m.
The Railers Band –Formerly the Tin Cup Gypsy -is an Upbeat country band with a fast beat. May 10.
Andrew and Noah Band – The young six musician band has a modern sound that is building a strong fan base. Presented by Turtle Dove on May 11.
Amy Held, the daughter of music legend Levon Helm and singer/songwriter Libby Titus Fagen, will be at the Gild Hall in Arden on Friday, May 10. Helm’s powerful voice is backed by her expertise on mandolin and drums. A founding member of the roots band Ollabelle, she honed her expertise alongside her father with whom she launched and perfected the Midnight Rambles in Woodstock. With her will be New Sweden, the six-man band that has won several competitions and have their new record, “The Mountain. Concert at 8 p.m. Go to www.ardenconcerts.com.
Caryl HUffaker lives in Kennett Township.