The Mortal Thoughts of Lady Macbeth

Program Notes

The action begins with the three witches invoking a spell that will set in motion the series of inevitable and bloody events. Lady Macbeth recounts her husband's encounter with these same witches, who predicted his ultimate ascent to king. She invokes spirits to "unsex" her, enabling her to murder King Duncan and facilitate her husband's ascent. Her initial resolve falls away: she witnesses Macbeth kill the king and is horrified by the deed. The witches enter again with their magical incantations - "Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble" - while Lady Macbeth descends into madness, attempting to wash the blood from her hands. The work concludes with the witches leading her "to the rooky wood" and handing her a knife, with which she slits her throat.

The Mortal Thoughts of Lady Macbeth is an opera inspired by Shakespeare's Macbeth.

The text deals specifically with the character of Lady Macbeth and her metamorphosis from greed for power through conflicting feelings over the murder of Duncan and ending with her final descent into madness and suicide. The other characters extracted from the play are the three witches. They have a two-fold purpose. Firstly, as representations of fate, they provide neutral commentary. Second, they function as a layer in the instrumental fabric. Inherent in the concept of fate is the tertiary division into past, present and future that manifests structurally on both macro- and micro-levels. There are three main sections to this work each of which further subdivides into three. Each of the witches' iterations also reflects this ternary division with canonic entries representing the swirling of the witches' spells and the stirring of the cauldron. The text itself has three functions: as narrative, an additional instrumental timbre, and the basis for the isorhythmic structure in the work.

NB: The witches may be performed with any vocal range (adjusting down an octave).


Audio / Visual


June 7 & 8, 2013 @ 7:30pm
A New Fangled Festival of Opera - New Orleans
University of New Orleans Lakefront Campus
Performing Arts Center
Interview with Chris Burton from New Fangled
May 2013
Frontiers Fort Worth Opera's 2013 New Works Festival
Elizabeth Westerman as Lady Macbeth
Tyson Deaton, conductor
Star-Telegram article
November 17, 2012 at 3pm
Hammer Museum - LA Opera Composers
Rebekah Barton as Lady Macbeth
Chris Rountree, conductor
Vera Ikon Productions (2010) Los Angeles
Directed by Yuval Sharon
Conducted by Marc Lowenstein
Michelle Jasso (soprano) as Lady Macbeth
Kalean Ung, Carmina Escobar & Alexandra Loutsion as the Witches
Ensemble Green
Fresh Voices Festival of New Operas (2009) San Francisco
Michelle Jasso (soprano) as Lady Macbeth
New York City Opera's VOX FESTIVAL (2008) Premiere
Conducted by Marc Lowenstein
Lauren Flanigan (soprano) as Lady Macbeth


REVIEWS of Los Angeles performance:

Vera Ikon Productions (2010) Los Angeles LA TIMES - Mark Swed

REVIEWS of Fort Worth Opera's performance:

Everyday Opera Review

Star Telegram Review

Front Row Magazine




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