Murder, madness and stirring melodies

Delusions. © Charles Thibo

“Du blanc, rien que du blanc! Je suis la mariée!”1 Ophelia has lost herself once more in her delusions. The grief over the death of her father Polonius, killed inadvertently by Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, has driven her crazy. What a tragedy! While Hamlet feigns to be mad to plan in secrecy the death of King Claudius, brother and murderer of Hamlet’s father, Ophelia, the woman he loves, has succumbed to true madness because her father Polonius’s death through Hamlet’s hand. William Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet” is one of my favourites, and Pyotr Tchaikovsky has composed in January 1891 a wonderful incidental music inspired by the play.

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Midsummer – a dream dreamt by William and Felix

Into the enchanted forest, kingdom of the fairies. © Charles Thibo
Into the enchanted forest, kingdom of the fairies. © Charles Thibo

Midsummer – time to dream… Let’s embark on a journey through the world of fairies with the brilliant composer Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, whose sister Fanny we have already met, and the 16th century writer William Shakespeare. Don’t worry, you may, but will not have to have read Shakespeare’s piece “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, even though it is a witty and funny one and certainly worth reading. Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy has composed an overture (Op. 21) and a larger piece of 11 movements (Op. 61), both inspired by Shakespeare’s theater piece, that hopefully will enchant you. The British actress Judi Dench, our guest star today, will act as our guide through Shakespeare’s lovely verses to keep you on track.

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