“Shakespeare is the true multicultural author. He exists in all languages. He is put on the stage everywhere. Everyone feels that they are represented by him on the stage”…. “Shakespeare is Universal” – Harold Bloom
This Saturday, January 21, we will have our second live broadcast of the Met of 2017, in the wonderful AUDITORIUM MATEO HERRERA in Leon City, with Gounod’s “Romeo et Juliette” and with a terrific cast that includes Diana Damrau, Vittorio Grigolo and Mikhail Petrenko and with Maestro Gianandrea Noseda conducting.
Romeo et Juliette opened the season on New Year’s Eve, and again with Diana Damrau and Maestro Gianandrea Noseda conducting (just like last year’s “The Pearl Fishers”)
This is the second live in HD broadcast from the MET of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, the first one was with Anna Netrebko and Roberto Alagna in the leading roles back in 2007. Now this new performance with Diana Damrau and Vittorio Grigolo is a new production by Bartlett Sher.
ROMEO AND JULIETTE BEFORE SHAKESPEARE:
Luigi Da Porto, Masuccio Salernitano, Matteo Bandello, Arthur Brooke and Pierre Boaistuau.
As we know the first origins of this famous tragic love story come from “Historia novellamente ritrovata di due nobili amanti” by Luigi Da Porto and it was published in 1531 in Venice. It is known that Luigi Da Porto was inspired by “Mariotto and Ganozza” by Masuccio Salernitano. Matteo Bandello is another famous writer in which Shakespeare got inspired. Matteo Bandello’s novella of “Romeo and Juliet” and his other novellas inspired many of Shakespeare’s works, like for example, “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Twelfth Night”. Arthur Brooke’s English translation of Bandello’s work, “The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet” is also considered as one of the most important works that inspired Shakespeare. We also have to mention the French version of Pierre Boaistuau “Histoire troisieme de deux Amants, don’t l’un mourut de venin, l’autre de tristesse”. And The Montecchi and the Cappelletti are mentioned in Canto Six , Purgatorio, in Dante Alighieri’s “La Divina Commedia”.
Also, in classic Latin literature, there is a parallel story to Romeo and Juliette in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, with Pyramus and Thisbe from book IV.
ROMEO ET JULIETTE IN OPERA AND MUSIC AND DANCE
Gounod’s opera is not the only Operatic or musical adaptation of Roméo et Juliette, first we had “Giulietta e Romeo” by Zingarelli, Bellini’s “I Capuleti e i Montecchi”, Hector Berlioz’s “Symphonie dramatique: Roméo et Juliette” with soloists, chorus and orchestra, later Tchaikovsky’s Overture-Fantasy of Roméo et Juliette. And in Ballet, we have Prokofiev’s marvelous “Roméo et Juliette”. And it is impossible not to mention Bernstein’s musical adaptation “West side Story”.
SHAKESPEARE AND THE OPERA AND MUSIC
“If music be the food of love, play on”….. William Shakespeare…..
Is no secret that many works of the bard of Avon, William Shakespeare have been adapted for the theater, films, television and mini series and of course, The Opera. Goethe, Shakespeare and Pushkin (are also in other cases Victor Hugo, Schiller and Beaumarchais) are probably the authors in which their literary works had more Operatic adaptations than any other author. There are many, many operatic versions of Shakespeare’s plays and it is impossible to mention all but I will name just a few: Along in the many famous Opera adaptations of Shakespeare’s works are Henry Purcell’s “The Fairy-Queen”, based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Verdi’s “Macbeth” in which we had the pleasure of watching two HDs from the Met (one in 2007 and the second recently in 2014) and with the extraordinary Serbian Baritone Zeljko Lucic in the title role in the both HD performances, Verdi’s “Otello”, which is considered as one of the greatest masterpieces ever in history of Opera and in which we had two live in HD broadcasts, first in 2012 with the late Tenor Johan Botha and Renée Fleming and later in 2015 with Aleksandrs Antonenko as Otello, Zeljko Lucic as Iago and Sonya Yoncheva as Desdemona. Verdi’s final masterpiece “Falstaff” in which we also had a live in HD performance from the MET back in 2013 (Falstaff is of course, based on the Merry Wives of Windsor and scenes from Henry IV). Also the recent Met in HD performance of “The Enchanted Island”, with Plácido Domingo, was based on “The Tempest”. Another interesting mention is Rossini’s “Otello” which is different from Shakespeare’s play and Verdi’s Operatic version. Berlioz, who, as we know has a very personal interesting story and also an admiration for Shakespeare also composed, (Besides of the already mentioned “Symphonie dramatique Romeo et Juliette) “Béatrice et Bénédict”, based on “Much ado About Nothing” and also his choral work “Tristia” (Related to Hamlet) and the overture for “King Lear” (Le Roi Lear). Also a few years ago, we had the pleasure of watching the HD broadcast from the MET in 2010 of the operatic version of “Hamlet”, by Ambroise Thomas and with Simon Keenlyside in the leading role. Richard Wagner, just like Berlioz and Liszt, which all of them had an obsession with both Goethe and Shakespeare, composed “Das Liebesverbot” based of course on “Measure for Measure”. Wagner’s “Das Liebesverbot” is rarely performed at the Opera Houses in these days and it would be interesting to see a new production of it. It is known that one of Verdi’s dreams was to compose an opera about “King Lear” but unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Imagine what would have happened if Verdi would have composed “King Lear”. It would have been a masterpiece. Another special mention is Felix Mendelssohn’s incidental music for “A Midsummer night’s dream” in which its very famous overture is an exquisite masterpiece.
No matter if is reading the books, watching a stage play or a film adaptation or watching and listening to an Operatic adaptation of Shakespeare’s plays…. his works, famous quotes, dramatic moments, his dramas, tragedies, comedies, historical plays and sonnets have changed the world and his works, with his unforgettable lines and dramatical theatrical moments can make a huge impact on us an reflect about the human condition. And like brilliant scholar Harold Bloom who is (along with Victor Hugo and in which Victor Hugo also wrote brilliant essays about Shakespeare) one of the greatest admires of Shakespeare’s works, said…
“Shakespeare will not make us better, and he will not make us worse, but he may teach us how to overhear ourselves when we talk to ourselves… he may teach us how to accept change in ourselves as in others, and perhaps even the final form of change” – Harold Bloom