May 17, 2016 |
WILMINGTON - Nearly every time you look down at the sidewalk, there's a stenciled image of a mustachioed face and the word "Essere. " The source of this is OperaDelaware, which has imposed the likeness of little-known composer Franco Faccio onto the local landscape while making his opera Hamlet part of the international landscape after 145 years of obscurity. "Essere" means "to be" - better than "not to be. " With an intelligent cast, solid direction both on stage and in the orchestra pit, plus the treat of being at Wilmington's lovely Grand Opera House, the opera's East Coast premiere on Saturday is what OperaDelaware hoped for: an event worth traveling for with Hamlet presented in repertory with Verdi's Falstaff . Faccio buried his opera after a disastrous 1871 La Scala production - and now, resurrected by conductor Anthony Barrese, it feels strangely familiar but new, like something Verdi should've written but didn't.
May 8, 2016 |
WILMINGTON - Poisoned goblets. A skull. And swords. Such iconic objects - all carefully laid out in the corner of the rehearsal room - can only add up to Hamlet . "We're ready!" said Brendan Cooke, general director of OperaDelaware. But not for the play. It's an operatic version, by a composer whose name is unknown even to opera mavens. Amleto (as it is known in Italian) by Franco Faccio (1840-91) had a disastrous 1871 La Scala premiere, when the star tenor had neither a voice nor an understudy.
April 28, 2016
ISSUE | SHAKESPEARE Lost in translation In his commentary decrying the rewriting of Shakespeare ("We trifle and tinker, but his words play on," Sunday), English professor Robert Garnett commits a little bowdlerization himself. He renders the line from Hamlet as, "He smote the sledded poleaxe on the ice. " A poleaxe? What is a short-handled battle-ax doing on a sled? Experts agree the word is "Polacks. " Shakespeare was not being derogatory; the term merely meant "Polish people.
April 25, 2016 |
The middle schoolers of Jenkintown have of late, but wherefore they know not, lost all mirth, forgone all custom of exercises, and decided to hove out onto the Bard's oft-trodden stage. The Jenkintown Shakespeare Festival began four years ago when Shannon Hackett, the English and creative-writing teacher at Jenkintown Middle School, decided that her wards shouldn't just read the Elizabethan classics. Although she'd always had her classes perform scenes in front of their fellow students, she decided they'd get a better feel for the subject before a crowd - to give them a rough idea of how the product was originally meant to be sampled.
April 25, 2016
Robert Garnett is a professor of English literature at Gettysburg College Four centuries in the grave, Shakespeare is still with us. But times change; tastes alter; language evolves. Will he survive the 21st century? Over the years, he has annoyed even his greatest admirers. His friend (and rival) Ben Jonson scoffed at his learning ("small Latin, and less Greek") and wished he had revised more carefully. A great 18th-century critic complained that Shakespeare's swelling rhetoric often tarted up "trivial sentiments and vulgar ideas"; more perplexing was Shakespeare's addiction to "quibbles," or puns: "A quibble is to Shakespeare, what luminous vapours are to the traveller; . . . it is sure to lead him out of his way, and sure to engulf him in the mire.
June 23, 2015 |
The relationship between Los Angeles television and New York theater has changed since Paul Rudnick wrote I Hate Hamlet in 1991. Gone are the days when Rudnick's jokes about Shakespeare as a retreat for washed-up TV and movie actors - "some English guy who can't get a series" - were accurate. However, Montgomery Theater's zany production proves that the current success and quality of cable TV have not made a dent in the hilarity of Rudnick's bizarre plot. In New York, famous young TV actor Andrew Rally (Jon Mulhearn)
May 30, 2015 |
Tom Stoppard's brilliant 1966 play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead , now in a lively production at the Wilma Theater, takes its title from the last scene in Hamlet when a messenger arrives to report that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two friends of the Prince of Denmark, are dead. In Shakespeare's play, this news doesn't move us much - they are, after all, two smarmy, not-too-bright guys sent to spy on Hamlet. We have larger, tragic deaths to deal with - like everybody else's.
April 4, 2015 |
Blanka Zizka has directed a much-anticipated Hamlet at the Wilma Theater, and central to the advance buzz is having Zainab Jah, a petite black African woman, in the title role. So was the idea that Hamlet is essentially human, and thus postrace and postgender? Maybe. But if you want to do a high-concept production, you actually have to have a concept and not just a bunch of weird stylistic choices. As it is, the stylistic choices - sometimes puzzling, sometimes dazzling - dominate the drama and often overwhelm the poetry, especially since some of the cast speaks very slowly, pausing at the end of lines, making little attempt at creating human speech.
April 1, 2015 |
That it should come to this! But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two: So excellent a king; that was, to this, Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother That he might not beteem the winds of heaven Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth! Must I remember? Why, she would hang on him, As if increase of appetite had grown By what it fed on: and yet, within a month - Let me not think on't - Frailty, thy name is woman! When it comes to women and Hamlet - Shakespeare's take on dead patriarchs, lustful queens, and avenging scions - the Bard isn't exactly kind.
November 24, 2014 |
Philadelphia City Council President Darrell L. Clarke knows the time to make a decision is nigh. Some have suggested that he could wait as long as February. He shakes his head vigorously when told that. "No, that would not be fair," he said. "That would be a little selfish. You have to tell people something. " Now, perhaps? He shakes his head again. "I have to say one way or another for a lot of reasons, and that point is coming soon," he said. "Real soon. " Some day in the near future, then, Clarke will end the speculation and announce whether he intends to run for mayor of Philadelphia.