Shakespeare is <3

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare

Last night, I went to NZSO’s Shakespeare in Music performance at the Michael Fowler Centre. Apparently, this year marks William Shakespeare‘s 450th birthday so the Orchestra is celebrating it by holding several concerts focusing on music composed for Shakespeare’s famous plays.

Some of Shakespeare’s plays, below. Papa’s favourites were Othello, Hamlet and Macbeth (I couldn’t find Coriolanus so no picture of that). Mine’s Merchant of Venice. King Lear’s probably the most depressing of all, followed by Romeo and Juliet (which probably is his most popular play) – photos taken using my reliable P&S camera, so excuse wonky horizon lines.

I was given comps at work and it was a shame to put the freebie to waste. The wind was howling at Wellington but that didn’t deter me from going, and I’m glad that I did because the whole concert was just … superb! I admit that I’m not a classical music aficionado and I wouldn’t be able to identify Bach from Beethoven but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate fine tunes when I hear it. And last night’s concert was just great! It’s actually one of the few times I’ve attended such an event where I didn’t yawn.

Mendelssohn (who apparently composed the very popular Wedding March for the play Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Strauss (who composed music based on Macbeth) are now among my favourite composers. The journey to self-discovery continues!

ANYWAY – this little excursion brought back memories of a much bigger trip done not so long ago. Last May, I went to Oxford and made sure that I found time to visit the Bard’s Abode at Stratford upon Avon. I missed my train but managed to catch the next one so, I was still able to spend a few hours exploring the town where William Shakespeare was born.

I would have wanted to visit all five homes on the tour book, but only had time to see one (his birthplace). Shakespeare’s family appeared to be well-off. Their house was quite big, had several rooms and even had a bed in the living room!

According to the guides, back in those days, placing your bed in the living room was a way of showing off wealth. You’re telling everyone that you can afford to buy a bed to keep yourself warm. Interior

Sadly, I wasn’t able to visit Anne Hathaway’s cottage so I’ll have to schedule a trip sometime in the future to see that. I shall end this entry with a photo of the Birthroom Window.

Birthplace Window
Birthroom Window

According to the text (which you may not be able to read, it’s at the bottom of the image): “This window was formerly in the birth room of Shakespeare’s Birthplace. It became traditional for pilgrims to etch their names into the glass as a symbol of their visit. The earliest recorded date on the window is 1806. Famous names written on the glass include the Scottish writer Walter Scott; the philosopher Thomas Carlyle; and two great Shakespearian actors, Ellen Terry and Henry Irving.”

HAPPIEST BIRTHYEAR TO THE GREATEST PLAYWRIGHT OF OUR TIME!

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