EVEN when on holiday, York Opera director Clive Marshall does not forego the chance to conduct research for this autumn’s production of Verdi’s Macbeth.

High up in the Cheviots, almost as far as the Border Ridge, above the Coquet valley is the village of Alwinton, where stands one of the most northerly pubs in England, the Rose & Thistle, a former coaching inn situated on an important drovers’ road linking England and Scotland.

Clive found himself on holiday in the area this summer and thought he might be close to the setting of one of the opera’s most beautiful and stirring scenes: Act IV of Macbeth takes place in “a deserted spot along the border between England and Scotland”.

“There is a chorus of Scottish refugees who have fled south away from Macbeth’s tyranny and who bemoan the fate of their country. They are re-energised and inspired by Macduff and Malcolm to join in a joint English/Scottish attack to depose Macbeth and restore the true heir, Malcolm, to the throne,” says Clive.

“The scene appealed greatly to its Italian audiences in the 1840s in their movement towards freedom and unity.”

* Clive's production of Verdi’s Macbeth will be performed on October 13, 14, 16 and 17 at York Theatre Royal; for tickets, phone 01904 623568.