'Ecstasy of power'

Giuseppe Verdi, like William Shakespeare before him, created beautiful roles for strong female characters. Lady Macbeth's descent into madness following the acquisition of great power is intense and difficult to watch or listen to.

Verdi's Macbeth is an extraordinary opera which I have heard several times but never seen performed. It was an amazing experience to see it beamed live from New York's Metropolitan Opera last night.

Sitting in the most comfortable seat, just a few miles from my home and with a good friend who shares my interests, this was a real treat and less than £20. One of the best things about cinema-going at my age is having no-one comment when I sit there with a cup of tea rather than pop and popcorn.

A very convincing Macbeth and a truly domineering Lady Macbeth headed up a professional cast. My favourite character was Banquo. It can be hard to play a ghost convincingly through Act III, but he succeeded.

It's a beautiful opera, with a real dynamic range - apart from the immense vocal and orchestral range - that contrasts the semi-hysterical witches with some beautiful ensemble sections to close Acts I and II and powerful male chorus sections of the assassins and soldiers.

One of the lost clever directorial touches lay in the glimpses of red - fingernails, blood, scarves, more blood and jewellery. Mothers grasped the red scarves of their dead children at the end as Macbeth's reign was ended by Malcolm and Macduff. A truly stunning performance.

As for watching great opera in a local cinema, I'd recommend it to anyone. The interval featured some live interviews with cast members and it gave an insight into the life behind a performance when you see performers out of character, able to resume immediately the curtain rises. Would I like seats at the Met? Obviously. Is this a close runner-up? Absolutely.

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