I was told before going that is was a bad production: difficult to hear what they are saying, is what was said to me. But the night we went, the production was perfect. Macbeth’s diction was perfect and every word came out clear and agonizing. Lady Macbeth too was overwhelming. A tyrant in the making and dying.
The story is old and well-known in both the Shakespeare and Verdi versions. I prefer the opera; it is taught and direct; pared to the essentials; and accompanied by mood-evoking music. Yet the play original as performed in Vancouver this week in a tent on the beach overlooking the inlet and misty mountains is reward enough. The players were perfect and the poetry flowed. Consider this passage that thrills the soul; here is Macbeth on the death of his wife:
She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Reminiscent of this from a different play:
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
Then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
That is life for those of us who are old. Although not yet sans teeth, sans taste, mere oblivion. The essential physical demands yet exists and are to be satisfied by new experiences. Or to embrace death as doth Macbeth in these lines:
To doubt the equivocation of the fiend
That lies like truth. “Fear not, till Birnam Wood
Do come to Dunsinane,” and now a wood
Comes toward Dunsinane. Arm, arm, and out!
If this which he avouches does appear,
There is nor flying hence nor tarrying here.
I ’gin to be aweary of the sun
And wish the estate o’ the world were now undone.
Ring the alarum bell! Blow, wind! Come, wrack!
At least we’ll die with harness on our back.
Too many of us old carry the harness on our back. Let us slough it off and be young in desire and action. No more consulting and distant travel to ego and false glory. For the wood comes to Dunsinane and we grow trite in opinion and perspective. We sleep through meetings and repeat old, trite opinions in private & public.
I will tomorrow to my bike and long rides and renewal of youth. And memories of those who have died.