June 11, 2010

1610: A Very Good Year

Miranda, by Waterhouse

Tonight I am going to see Sir Derek Jacobi, one of the greatest living actors, perform in a “concert” version of Shakespeare’s Tempest. I’m not entirely sure what a “concert version” means, but I don’t really care—I am so excited to be seeing Derek Jacobi. (As I’ve said before, this is a year for meeting/seeing idols.) Also performing are Lynn Redgrave and the Folger Consort.

I usually jump back and forth between The Tempest and The Winter's Tale as my favorite of the late romances (though Pericles is terribly underrated and very wonderful).  I do love the innocence and eagerness of Miranda (above).  "Oh brave new world..."  The Tempest was written in 1610.  Which means it is the 400th anniversary of that great play (and in 6 years we'll be coming upon the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death). 

1610 was A Very Good Year.  700 miles to the south, in 1610, Monteverdi wrote the most magnificent piece of music ever composed: Vespro della Beata Vergine.  I've known this piece my entire life, and never tire of hearing it.  Indeed, I wrote my Music History paper on it, and listened to it for basically one whole week straight (even playing the CD on repeat through the night).  Ok, so I am a little obsessed.  But it is worth all the time in the world.  The best piece is his motet Duo Seraphim, which I have embedded below (it is ia fine recording, though not the best).

Unfortunately, no one in Washington has seen fit to perform this glorious, though demanding piece.  And, as far as I can tell, this is the only Washington production of The Tempest for this year. I am surprised that there are not more revivals of both The Tempest and 1610 Vespers.  These two  masterpieces, written amid a changing age, stand as pillars of grace, beauty, inspiration and wisdom.  Such anniversaries should not be taken lightly.





1 comment:

  1. I saw the show last night and the chamber music was well matched to the snippets of Shakespeare.
    Sady Lynn Redgrave is hopefully in a better place; but the actress who handled Miranda and Ariel did a great job. Enjoy.

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