An Outward Show: Music for Shakespeare on the London Stage, 1660-1830

An Outward Show: Music for Shakespeare on the London Stage, 1660-1830

An Outward Show: Music for Shakespeare on the London Stage, 1660-1830

An Outward Show: Music for Shakespeare on the London Stage, 1660-1830

Synopsis

This book discusses music used in Shakespeare productions during the 170-year period from the Restoration to about 1830, a time when Shakespeare's plots and poetry were updated to meet popular taste, as was the musical repertoire created to enhance the plays. Included are settings of Shakespeare's song lyrics, other original texts, and added non-Shakespearean texts, as well as incidental music, masques, operas, and afterpieces based on the plays. An appendix summarizes information about important productions and source materials in a series of charts cross-referenced to the extensive bibliography. Numerous musical examples illustrate the text, and scores of Shakespearean music by Arne, Boyce, Leveridge, Vernon, Weldon, and others are reprinted.

Excerpt

So may the outward shows be least themselves.

The Merchant of Venice III, 2

Shakespeare's plays have, in one form or another, held a place on the English-speaking stage from the time of their first productions. Theatre historians consider the tradition of Shakespearean performance a thread of continuity running through the seasonal changes of dramatic fashion. Music has long been recognized as part of that continuing heritage. This book looks at a period in the history of Shakespearean production when the plays, revised to accommodate tastes of the times, were often not themselves. At the same time, music and spectacle became an increasingly important feature in the presentation of the plays. Like the external trappings of Portia's gold, silver, and lead caskets, the music often became an outward show obscuring the play within.

Shakespeare intended music to be important in contemporary performances of his plays; many of the aesthetic ideas concerning musical dramaturgy, performance practices, and musical sources known to Elizabethan dramatists have been reconstructed. Shakespeare's own use of music has been studied with particular attention to the function of music and musical allusion in the plays. Collectors have attempted to recover the original tunes accompanying his dramatic lyrics. Yet while the music used in Shakespeare's own time has been the subject of much research . . .

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