The expression "vil corona" as Francesco Degrada (Il palazzo incantato, 2, 136) has pointed out, was evidently too much for those who censored what was sung at the Regio Imperial Teatro alla Scala, where Macbeth had its Milanese premiere in February 1849 - just 6 months afther the Austrians, having crushed the rebellious Milanese and their allies, reentered the city. In the libretto prepared for that production, Macbeth dies exclaiming:
Muoio al cielo... al mondo in ira
O mia donna... e sol per te!
The exiles' chorus, "Patria oppressa," begins "Noi perduti!," and "La patria tradita" becomes "La fede tradita."
PALERMO, 1852; MESSINA, 1853
Regicide played no part in the Macbeth
given in these cities of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Count Walfred, "a very rich Scottish nobleman, King Duncan's first military general," is murdered by a Macbeth eager to secure that post for himself...
Regicide - at any rate regicide long ago, in a distant northern country - passed the ecclesiastical censor who set his imprimatur, dated 21 December 1852, to a Macbeth
libretto printed in Rome by the Tipografia Menicanti. What could not be allowed in the Holy City was any suggestion of supernatural power possessed by witches - or, for that matter, any witches at all. The opera begins with a chorus of gypsies busy with the fortune telling cards of their "superstitious prophecies":
I Che scovriste?... Dite su!
II Già nel bosco è sono.
I E tu?
III M'era fiso nel pensier;
Di Macbetto è quel destrier: (additando una carta)
Ed il Tre che lo segnò
Con tre Regu s;assiciò!
Tanti serti predirò,
I Trar par Banco l'Asse io vo...
II Donna e rege si mostrò...
..."Calice" is evidently a word with sacred associations; the brindisi
begins "Il nappo colmisi." Banquo's ghost passed muster. At the start of Act III, the witches, in a dark room, are preparing in their pentola
a brew, recipe unspecified, which, they claim, will comfort the lovesick, make businessmen successful in their enterprises, and confer invincibility on soldiers...
Verdi in his first letter to Escudier of 11 March refers to the interpretation of the sleepwalking scene given by the celebrated Italian actress Adelaide Ristori. Ristori was celebrated in the role of Lady Macbeth; in 1882 she played it, in English, at Drury Lane, and she often included the sleepwalking scene in recital programs....
From an 1859 production in Dublin:
[during the sleepwalking scene] a nurse and doctor are seated at the door, a small table stands between them, and upon the table is a bottle of physic with the conventional long label of days gone by attached to it. The crowded audience has sat through three acts of new music, and is naturally rather tired. The 'cellos and double basses are groaning on; we are anxiously waiting the rentrée of Lady Macbeth, when a voice in the gallery calls out to the well-known leader of the band, 'Ah! hurry now, Mr. Levey! tell us, it is a boy or a girl?' Viardot delayed her appearance a few minutes in order to allow the commotion this singular inquiry caused to tone down.
"Il Macbeth di Verdi alla Pergola" (letter dated Florence, 15 March 1847), in La Moda: Giornale di Mode e Teatri, 20 March 1847:
...[concerning Macduff's Act IV aria]... the public did not take to it. Not that the poor Macduff did not wave his arms about, jump up and down as if spring-driven, strut like a wagtail, to put the public on notice that he was present and willing, for they had not yet become aware of him. But all to no avail. Nothing helped to remove him from the category of supporting actors to which he seems to have been purposely relegated, together with Banco.