Juilliard's Brings a Musical Take on Shakespeare's The Tempest

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A busy spring in New York for English actor Sir Derek Jacobi comes to a head on Monday, June 13 at 7 pm at the Juilliard School when he appears alongside actors Richard Clifford and Monica Raymund to perform selected readings from Shakespeare's The Tempest. The readings will be complemented by 17th–century songs and instrumental pieces inspired by Shakespeare’s play and compiled into an early operatic version.

WQXR will present a live video stream of the event at WQXR.org, with an encore presentation slated for Sunday, June 26 at 4 pm. The one-night-only performance is part of a benefit for Juilliard's Drama Division.

In addition to the aforementioned actors, the production features countertenor David Daniels, baritone Bob McDonald and Juilliard415, the School’s student historical performance group.

More about Sir Derek Jacobi

Derek Jacobi is currently starring as King Lear at BAM, a sell-out transfer from London's Donmar Warehouse. The production, which runs through June 5, has received enthusiastic reviews from critics and is just the latest in a long career of Shakespearean roles for the actor.

Jacobi, 72, launched his acting career by playing Hamlet as a teenager, and, although he is still best-known as the stuttering Emperor Claudius in the 1976 BBC series “I, Claudius,” he has routinely taken on Shakespeare for more than half a century. American audiences may know Jacobi for his recent role as the Archbishop of Canterbury in “The King’s Speech,” as well as Kenneth Branagh’s film version of “Henry V” (1989) and a part in the film “Gladiator” (2000).

On May 20, Jacobi received an honorary doctorate from Juilliard, the latest in a string of career honors that includes two knighthoods (Danish and British), as well as Olivier Awards and a Tony Award (for his Broadway production of Much Ado About Nothing).

More on the Juilliard Adaptation of The Tempest

Adapted and directed by Mr. Clifford, this presentation of The Tempest with period music was first performed in 2010 by the Folger Consort, early music ensemble-in-residence at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, with mostly the same cast. Robert Eisenstein was musical director. Thought to have been written by Shakespeare about 1610, The Tempest is among the great plays of his late period. Frequently adapted in performance, it also has been the inspiration for operatic treatments, tone poems, and numerous song texts. At Juilliard, the benefit reading includes a setting of Shakespeare’s text from a 1674 staging of The Tempest as well as other period works; the composers are Matthew Locke, John Banister, Pelham Humfrey, Georg Frideric Handel, and Antonino Reggio.

Full Cast Details:

Actors Sir Derek Jacobi, Richard Clifford, Juilliard alumna Monica Raymund, Countertenor David Daniels, and Baritone Bob McDonald Star in an adaptation of The Tempest

Selected readings from Shakespeare's play with 17th century songs and music by Banister, Handel, Humfrey, Locke, and Reggio

Featuring Juilliard415:
Beth Wenstrom, Liv Heym, Violins
Adriane Post, Viola
Ezra Seltzer, Cello
Jeffrey Grossman, Harpsichord
Priscilla Smith, Kristin Olson, Luke Conklin, Oboes
Nathan Helgeson, Bassoon
Grant Herreid, Theorbo