Shakespeare Restored at Rook Lane Chapel
Time & Location
About the Event
The musicality of Shakespeare's writing along with the intense emotion in his plays have inspired composers since they were first performed. Dramma per Musica’s programme brings together settings by Shakespeare’s contemporaries and later works connected to the restoration productions of Shakespeare’s works in the late 17th century.
We’ve chosen to organise the programme in the typical groupings of Shakespeare’s dramas: Comedies, Histories and Tragedies. While the basic premise is using music either from productions or adaptations of the plays in these categories we have also used the history section to explore the theme in a slightly wider way. This section includes pre restoration music, and music from political events that would have influenced Shakespeare’s worldview.
The Elizabethan and Jacobean settings in the programme have luminous quality; Morely, Ravenscroft and Johnson demonstrate an acute ear both for the intonation of Shakespeare’s words and for a good tune. The programme includes some of the folk melodies Shakespeare referenced in his plays and this singsong style perhaps influenced these early settings.
Some works we are performing are part of broader theatrical music of the time rather than specifically Shakespeare. Purcell’s Come Away Fellow Sailors comes from Dido and Aneas respectively. We have also chosen to include the work O Death Rock Me to Sleep, a setting of what is reportedly the words written by Anne Boleyn during her imprisonment in the tower of London. Henry Butler’s instrumental divisions on Callino Casturame is an Irish folk song used as an insult in Henry V.
After the conflict of the civil war, the London theatres faced yet more tribulations through the great plague and fires which caused further closures and fear amongst their audience. The new theatres however were modernised and exciting. Women performed, the sets could move, storms could be conjured. The settings we’ve chosen illustrate this way the performance space and musical style develops hand in hand. Restoration dramatists turned to Shakespeare’s plays adapting them to their new and elaborate indoor theatres with dramatic sets and acoustics fit for singing. Shakespeare’s lyrics could be set to more complex and striking music infusing the works with a heart-on -sleeve emotion that may have been swallowed by the globe’s open architecture. The Shakespeare restored in the theatres of Charles II was by no means the same Shakespeare, Lear survives, the witches dance the endings are positive after a time of uncertainty, however settings of these era’s show while Shakespeare writing is timeless it is also able to carry the signature of how each era’s way of bringing the works alive.
More info and tickets: https://www.rooklane.org.uk/events/tea-concert-dramma-per-musica/