Tag Archives: Shakespeare

5 Shakespeare Operas To Sink Your Teeth Into

This year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and the whole world is celebrating the Bard. While Shakespeare’s plays are brilliant when read and powerful when staged, there is something to be said for experiencing his stories set to music. Throughout history, opera composers have adapted Shakespeare plays into some of the most thrilling pieces in the repertory. We’ve compiled a list below of some operas based on Shakespeare plays. We’re sure you’ll fall in love them.

Macbeth by Giuseppe Verdi

Gripping. Dark. Exciting. Verdi’s opera expands on Shakespeare’s tale of betrayal and murder, getting into the wicked and tormented minds of the Macbeths (kind of like the Whites in Breaking Bad) through electrifying vocal lines and propulsive energy. It is not to be missed (especially since LA Opera’s 16/17 season opens with Macbeth on Sept 17).

Roméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod

Roméo et Juliette (2004); Photo: Ken Howard

Roméo et Juliette (2004); Photo: Ken Howard

Charles Gounod’s elegant and sumptuous score for his version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet heightens the connection between the two young lovers through no less than four romantic duets, making their ultimate fate that much more tragic. Learn more about LA Opera’s iconic production here.

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Music Monday: Macbeth

Plácido Domingo as the title character in Macbeth (2015) in Valencia, Spain; Photo: Tato Baeza

Plácido Domingo as the title character in Macbeth (2015) in Valencia, Spain; Photo: Tato Baeza

There is no better composer than Giuseppe Verdi to tackle the darkly complex tragedy that is Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Fascinated by the supernatural and the bloody betrayal of Macbeth, Verdi composed the original opera in 1847, making dramatic additions in 1865 to create the masterpiece opera. Starring Plácido Domingo, Macbeth will kick off our upcoming season at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion this September.

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Music Monday: Domingo in Otello

Plácido Domingo in Otello (1986); Photo: Frederic Ohringer

Plácido Domingo in Otello (1986); Photo: Frederic Ohringer

In 1986, LA Opera’s inaugural season opened with Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello, starring Plácido Domingo. Of the opera, director Götz Friedrich said, “The theme [of Otello] is eternal and current: The Soldier, shoved into peacetime, proves to be defenseless and helpless in the face of the attacks of everyday life, the persecutions of injured vanity. In ancient tragedy, the heroes fell because of the gods. With Shakespeare and Verdi, it is the envy of men which destroys the outsider.” This would become one of the company’s iconic productions.

Since its successful premiere in 1887, Otello has catapulted audiences to the Shakespeare of Verdi. This is a world where all the essentials of storytelling meet the heightened emotions of an operatic score. Take, for example, the below duet between Otello (Domingo) and Iago (Sherrill Milnes), “Si, pel ciel.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAiy8UcoBrg

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