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Sun Feb 24 11:40:17 2013

Mon Apr 29 13:08:20 2013

Tue Mar 18 12:36:13 2014

About witches.

at the beginning of time...

          I had not yet decided if the witches will be played by men or women. Since they have beards , men are the natural choice. The aspect of one sex plus the voice of the other is quite a dramatic effect, but it may be impractical, because of problems with falsetto. I was considering both possibilities.


Currently most of the music is ready, using female voices for witches. Forget about falsetto.


The apparitions are purely visual and silent. So a movie should be made, or even fancier, a 3d laser show, and it may look makeshift or low-definition , because that's a ghostly apparition, anyhow. All the participants should wear Banquo's mask, with at most a moustache, beard or wig to distinguish one from the other. The ghost of Banquo should be bloody and smiling. The costumes may be from all over the Scottish Stuart period; if at all, historically accurate.

Ideally, there should be some kings

That twofold balls and treble sceptres carry.
juggling those, obviously.

«  witches ... Neatly trimmed mustaches and goatees – the beards are a must ...
«  witches ... Wild bushy mustaches and beards
«  Since witches have beards , men are the natural choice


See the original play, act I, scene III :
   MACBETH. So foul and fair a day I have not seen.
BANQUO. How far is't call'd to Forres? What are these So wither'd and so wild in their attire, That look not like the inhabitants o' the earth, And yet are on't? Live you? or are you aught That man may question? You seem to understand me, By each at once her choppy finger laying Upon her skinny lips. You should be women, And yet your beards forbid me to interpret That you are so.
MACBETH. Speak, if you can. What are you?



Lady Macbeth

Lords, Gentlemen


Malcolm and Donalbain


Plain folk, murtherer, chorus


The three witches


«  Plain folk, murtherer, chorus...

Costume: chorus

Shirts, tunics and trews of natural wool color, brogues.


Costume: doctor

Black gown, mortarboard.

«  Lords, Gentlemen

Costume: gentlemen

Brigth white linen shirts, tunics and trews, boots. Mantles with a colored or decorated stripe. Enamel decorations on breastplates and helmets.


Brigth white linen gowns, white skin shoes. Colored silk tuniques or mantles. Elaborate headdresses.

«  Hecate

Costume: Hecate

The Greek Goddess look: chlamis, tall caps like fezzes, all shiny white.

«  Lady Macbeth

Same as gentlewomen costume. In act III, purple mantle and coronet. In act V, white silk nightgown.

«  Macbeth

As thane, same as gentlemen costume. When king, purple mantle and crown; golden ring over helmet.


Costume: princes Malcolm and Donalbain

Same as gentlemen costume, silver head rings. Short silk white mantles.

«  Soldiers

Costume: soldiers

Same as chorus costume, with flags, weapons, helmets and breastplates.

«  The three witches

Male witches

Properly dressed in tuxedos, with bow ties, all black. Shiny black shoes. Neatly trimmed mustaches and goatees (the beards are a must!). On the head, fancy Victorian ladies' hats with feathers, birds and fruit. While tending the cauldron (act IV, scene I ), wear dainty lace aprons, which they discard before Macbeth's entrance.

Female witches

Latest fashion CEO ladies' business wear, need not be in subdued or dark colors. Wild bushy mustaches and beards – may look obviously fake. While tending the cauldron (act IV, scene I ), dainty lace aprons, which they discard before Macbeth's entrance.
As a variation, Victorian dresses and hats, with the same beards.

weird.txt is the current libretto .

«  with flags, weapons, helmets and breastplates

Heraldic flags:

England: silver, a cross gules.
Scotland, Macbeth's troops: azure, a saltire silver.
Scotland, Malcolm's troops: azure, a saltire silver, overall an old king's head and a young king's head natural.


This is the triple Hecate, three women back to back, with hellhounds, keys and torches. Female voices. Turn between prophecies, still back to back.

One holds a torch in one hand and a key in the other, the second a torch and a dog on leash, the third a key and a dog on leash. They appear on a turning postament, pulled from the wings onto the scene. If the whole contraption squeaks, that may be a feature, not a bug. The dogs should look ferocious and shaggy, but be well behaved enough and trained to follow the turning singers. Or they may be just plaster levrets; the keys and torches should also have the plaster/white marble look.

Turning, on the other hand, makes for singing with the back to the public. If this is objectionable, they may dismount and just stay side by side.


The scenery would be mostly a curtain backdrop, showing the locale, more or less stylized. The backdrop may contain overlapping slits: the witches and Hecate disappear simply by passing through the slits behind the scenery.

Banquo ghost's scene will need a real table with seats, but the murtherer may appear through a backdoor slit.


The witch scenes specify thunder. That may be the standard "thunder machine", a shaken metal sheet. I have some weirder proposals:


         n.b.      This is MIDI notation: C5 is middle C, numerically 60. C above middle C is C6 = 72, etc...

alto: a chorus voice G4 F6 : 55 77

baritone F3 F5 : 41 65 (see)

bass E3 E5 : 40 64, tessitura G3 A4 : 43 57

contralto F4 F6 : 53 77

countertenor A4 E6 : 57 76

mezzosoprano A4 A6 : 57 81

soprano C5 C7 : 60 84 ;   Queen of the night: F7, 89 (see)

tenor C4 C6 : 48 72

Voices for roles

Macbeth   Baritone
Lady Macbeth    Full lyric soprano / Lyrischer Sopran, range: B4 C7
Banquo   Bass
Macduff   Bass
Hecate-1.   Soprano
Hecate-2.   Soprano
Hecate-3.   Mezzosoprano
Angus / Doctor   Baritone
Lennox / Messenger   Tenor
Gentlewoman / Hecate-3.   Mezzosoprano
Malcolm   Baritone
Donalbain    Tenor
Murtherer   Bass

Male witches

First witch   Baritone, falsetto
Second witch   Baritone, falsetto
Third witch   Baritone, falsetto

Female witches

First witch   Mezzosoprano
Second witch   Contralto
Third witch   Contralto

                    In total:

Male witches

3 Baritone, falsetto
3 Baritone (or 4, if Angus and Doctor are distinct singers)
2Tenor (or 3, depending on doubling the roles: Messenger and Lennox )

Female witches

3Baritone (or 4, if Angus and Doctor are distinct singers)
2Tenor (or 3, depending on doubling the roles: Messenger and Lennox)

«  alto alto, chorus voice G4 F6 : 55 77

«  baritone F3 F5 : 41 65

Doctor   (may be the same singer as Angus)

If the three witches are played by men, there will be three baritones singing falsetto in part of the role:

The Three Witches

«  bass E3 E5 : bass 40 64 tessitura G3 A4 : 43 57


«  contralto contralto F4 F6 : 53 77

If the witches are played by female singers, there will be two contralto roles

Second witch
Third witch

«  countertenor countertenor A4 E6 : 57 76

«  mezzosoprano mezzosoprano A4 A6 : 57 81

Male witches
Female witches
First witch

«  soprano soprano C5 C7 : 60 84

Lady Macbeth

«  tenor C4 C6 : tenor 48 72

Messenger    (may be the same singer as Lennox)