365 Days of Shakespeare

That's right – the Bard in a year.

161. Hamlet: The Musical

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Okay, not musical. Opera. Which kind of makes sense – other works of Shakespeare have been successfully translated to opera. But Hamlet rightfully makes some doubters a little nervous – how can “to be or not to be” have a tune set to it without sounding stupid?

Apparently, this is how. Though it was more or less brushed off and disliked by critics, Hamlet‘s opera has survived.

What has to be remembered is that the play and the opera are not the same thing. They are two different interpretations of a common story. One thing that seems to be forgotten by most people – occasionally by me, I admit – is that Shakespeare’s stories are not necessarily original. He borrowed, distilled, translated, and adapted stories from all over the place in his work.

But can a story like Hamlet’s, so poetic and so deep in psychology and philosophy, really be translated well to music?

Personally, I say why not? I’d love to see Hamlet’s soliloquies turned into songs, Ophelia’s madness played out in music, and a score to the swordfight. I say go for it, composers out there! Keep turning Shakespeare’s plays into operas! I’ll be the first to buy a ticket!


Written by Caroline Mincks

March 11, 2010 at 1:28 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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