Thanks to yesterday’s enlarged Presidency’s preparatory work the Bureau finished early enough for me to dash to La Monnaie for Krzysztof Warlikowski’s production of Verdi’s Macbeth. I was slightly apprehensive. I had been warned that the production was complex, and so it was, but I left the theatre having been deeply moved. In the first place, the singing and the acting were first rate. Carlo Colombara (Banco), Iano Tamar (Lady Macbeth) and Andrew Richards (Macduff) were all outstanding. Paul Daniel conducted the Monnaie orchestra with great passion and sensitivity. But Scott Hendricks’s interpretation of the title role was extraordinary both for his delivery and for his utterly convincing depiction of a decline into delusional paranoia. In the second place, Warlikowski plays very cleverly on the theme of heirlessness. The witches on the blasted heath become childlike figures with adult faces. Banco’s ghost becomes a number of dwarves with miniature Banco heads… In the third place, Warlikowski cleverly uses a small camera placed on the banqueting table to film the facial expressions of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth’s guests as his decline accelerates, and these grainy, graphic images are projected onto a massive backdrop. The production is far from perfect. The first Act’s depictions of the heath and the castle (telescoped into one another) are messy and confusing, with far too much going on and not all of it relevant. On the other hand, there can be no denying Warlikowski’s attention to detail. For example, Macbeth lights a cigarette at the beginning of the first Act. Once he has killed King Duncan, however, a flunkey insists on lighting his cigarette for him and by the time of the banquet he has progressed to cigars. This was a challenging production but an immensely entertaining one.