Shakespeare in Music at The Abbey Theatre

In two special festive performances, the Abbey Theatre and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra join forces for the first time on the Abbey stage on Sunday 15 December with Shakespeare in Music. Under the baton of Gavin Maloney, the RTÉ NSO will perform excerpts from orchestral works inspired by Shakespeare. Directed by Wayne Jordan, actors Derbhle Crotty, Nick Dunning, Peter Gaynor and Natalie Radmall-Quirke will recite the Bard’s most famous monologues.

Excerpts from Debussy’s King Lear, Berlioz’ Romeo and Juliet, Sibelius’ The Tempest, Walton’s Henry V and Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream will create the soundtrack to this celebration of music and monologue.

Speaking about the event, Fiach Mac Conghail, Director of the Abbey Theatre said: “I am delighted that the Abbey Theatre and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra are collaborating for these special performances at this festive time.  It’s a wonderful occasion to be celebrating the work of Shakespeare on the Abbey stage with Ireland’s national symphony orchestra.”

Declan McGovern, General Manager of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra said: “The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra is delighted and honoured to join forces with Ireland’s national theatre for this historic collaboration.  The influence of words on music permeates the orchestra’s 2013/14 season and we can think of no better way to celebrate this than with our two performances at the Abbey Theatre, joining forces with some of the Abbey Theatre’s finest actors.”

Shakespeare’s 38 plays have long had a strong influence on music.  French composers Claude Debussy and Hector Berlioz wrote powerful scores based on King Lear and Romeo and Juliet.  Irish-born actor Henrietta Smithson inspired Berlioz’ famous Symphonie Fantastique after the composer saw her take on the role of Juliet in 1827.  One of Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev’s most admired works depicts Juliet’s death in the same play.  The Tempest, widely believed to be the last play that Shakespeare wrote alone, is coincidentally one of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’ last great works.

Shakespeare’s work has crossed artistic mediums – Laurence Olivier starred in the 1944 version of Henry V for which English composer William Walton provided the music.  Walton’s Agincourt Song is taken from this score.  The final excerpt in Shakespeare in Music comes from Felix Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Shakespeare in Music brings together two of Ireland’s leading young talents, conductor Gavin Maloney and director Wayne Jordan.  Together they celebrate Shakespeare as literature and music combine to create a fresh representation of the writer’s prolific work.



Shakespeare in Music on the Abbey stage

Performances: Sunday 15 December

Times: 3pm and 5pm

Ticket prices: €18 – €30 (Conc. €15 – €23)



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