Verdi had a special fondness for Macbeth, and the first version of his opera based on Shakespeare's play is arguably the most important work of his formative years. But dissatisfied with the work of his librettist, Francesco Maria Piave, Verdi reworked the text himself and lavished the score with particular attention. The premiere in Florence in 1847 was a great success, but for the Paris premiere in 1865, Verdi made substantial changes, adding dances and an entirely new aria, duet, chorus, and death scene. Clearly, he intended that Macbeth II supersede the earlier version, and today the "Paris" version is the one generally performed.
Published in three volumes, this critical edition of Macbeth is the only one based entirely on autograph sources. Containing the later version as the principal score, it is the first edition to consult the composer's manuscripts of the revised pieces, preserved at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. An appendix contains the earlier movements, and David Lawton provides a wide-ranging introduction to the opera's complex history. This critical edition of Macbeth includes here for the first time Verdi's preferred text—the version he set to music—as well as his own stage directions and thus offers the most vivid and dramatic reading to date.