A giant circle is drawn on a sloping stage, with signs of various shapes and sizes in it.
Four gray stone pillars stand in the front part of the circle.
That's one of the scenes from the latest production of Verdi's opera, Macbeth, by the National Center for the Performing Arts, which will be staged from Sept 7 to 11 in Beijing.
Two of the leading actors, baritone Sergey Murzaev and soprano Sun Xiuwei, did rehearsal for NCPA opera production, Macbeth, in Beijing. Provided to China Daily
The creative force behind the opera is Argentine director Hugo de Ana, who is also the set designer and costume designer.
Known for his spectacular sets and a regular guest at the world's most prestigious opera houses, the director interprets the William Shakespeare tragedy using symbolic elements like the circles onstage.
"In Shakespeare's plays, the power of nature and the supernatural is portrayed to intensify the stories. Here, I use circles to represent many different things, such as land, the conflict and war," says the director.
"As a place, where the raw lust of power dominates, the circles also transform into different abstract scenes, such as a forest and a gala."
Macbeth was the first Shakespeare play that Verdi adapted for the operatic stage. It premiered at the Teatro della Pergola, Florence, in 1847.
The opera explores the selfishness, desire, greed and fear of the Scottish general Macbeth, who longs to be king of Scotland.
With an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, the opera generally follows the core of Shakespeare's play but with a few changes.
For example, in Verdi's opera, the ruthless Lady Macbeth becomes the driving force behind Macbeth's desire to become the king of Scotland.
Then, instead of using three witches as in the play, there is a large female chorus of witches, singing in three-part harmony.
"Every detail in Macbeth has more than one meaning. For instance, the blood not only represents death, but also a lively person as well, as the war between Scotland and England," the director says.
"The witches and ghosts symbolize supernatural powers. They fall from the air and come from underground to meet real human beings onstage," adds the director, who has also been involved with other NCPA productions like Verdi's operas Il Trovatore, Un Ballo in Maschera as well as Camille Saint-Saens' opera Samson and Delilah.
Meanwhile, the world renowned Placido Domingo will play the lead role in Macbeth, which marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.
Chinese soprano Sun Xiuwei and Italian soprano Susanna Branchini play the role of Lady Macbeth, while well-known maestro Daniel Oren will lead the NCPA Orchestra and the NCPA Chorus.
(China Daily 09/03/2016 page22)