Celebrate Shakespeare's 450th Birthday with Operavore

Hear Daily Shakespearean Operas, April 21-25 at 2 pm

Monday, April 21, 2014 - 12:00 PM

Shakespeare of the Cobbe Portrait, the Chandos Portrait, and the Droeshout Engraving. Shakespeare of the Cobbe Portrait, the Chandos Portrait, and the Droeshout Engraving. (Brice Stratford)

• Listen to the Operavore stream

In honor of William Shakespeare's 450th birthday we're celebrating his work on the operatic stage. Tune into the Operavore stream every day this week at 2 pm to hear an opera based on his plays.



Shakespeare – poet, playwright and actor is largely considered one of the greatest writers the English language has ever known. It's his work for the stage that have captured the hearts and minds of many a composer. Below are just a few opera composers who have adapted the Bard's theatrical works for the operatic stage. Tune in to hear these performances throughout the week on the Operavore stream. 

Monday: Verdi: Macbeth

Conductor: Erich Leinsdorf
Macbeth: Leonard Warren
Lady Macbeth: Leonie Rysanek
Benquo: Jerome Hines
Macduff: Carlo Bergonzi
Malcom: William Olvis
Lady in Attendance: Carlotta Ordassy
A Physician: Gerhard Pechner
A Murderer: Osie Hawkins
Three Apparitions: Calvin Marsh, Emilia Cundari, Mildred Allen
A Manservant: Harold Sternberg
Metropolitan Opera and Chorus 

Tuesday: Berlioz: Beatrice et Benedict 

Conductor: John Nelson 
Susan Graham
Benedict: Jean-Luc Viala
Hero: Sylvia McNair
Ursule: Catherine Robbin
Claudio: Gilles Cachemaille
Somarone: Gabriel Bacquier
Don Pedro: Vincent Le Texier
Leonato: Phillippe Magnant
Lyon Opera Orchestra and Chorus 

Wednesday: Verdi: Otello

Conductor: Tullio Serafin
Otello: Jon Vickers
Desdemona: Leonie Rysanek
Iago: Tito Gobbi
Cassio: Florindo Andreolli
Roderigo: Mario Carlin
Lodovico: Ferruccio Mazzoli
Montano: Franco Calabrese
A Herald: Robert Kerns
Emilia: Myriam Pirazzini 
Rome Opera Orchestra and Chorus 

Thursday: Nicolai: The Merry Wives of Windsor

Conductor: Bernhard Klee
Sir John Falstaff: Kurt Moll
Herr Fluth: Bernd Weikl
Herr Reich: SiegfriedVogel 
Fenton: Peter Schreier
Junker Spärlich: Karl-Ernst Merker
Dr. Cajus: Claude Dormoy
Frau Fluth: Edith Mathis
Frau Reich: Hanna Schwarz
Anna: Helen Donath
Ein Bürger: Kurt Ludwig
Sprecher: Helmuth Straßburger 
Chor der Deutschen Staatsoper Berlin 

Friday: Verdi: Falstaff

Metropolitan Opera (Broadcast on December 14, 2013)

Conductor: James Levine
Dr. Caius: Carlo Bosi
Sir John Falstaff: Ambrogio Maestri
Bardolfo: Keith Jameson
Pistola: Christian Van Horn
Meg Page: Jennifer Johnson Cano
Alice Ford: Angela Meade
Mistress Quickly: Stephanie Blythe
Nannetta: Lisette Oropesa
Fenton: Paolo Fanale
Ford: Franco Vassallo


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Comments [3]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

Chicago Lyric's OTELLO broadcast on Saturday May 24th requires in the title role and in the role of Iago full-bodied stentorian voices with stamina and easy trumpet like high notes. Neither JOHAN BOTHA as Otello nor FRALK STRUCKMANN as Iago had much quality in their individual vocal timbres, were often not focussed tonally, lacked ping and ringing tones and were underpowered, thin-voiced and strained on their unfocussed high notes. Only ANA MARIA MARTINEZ as Desdemona was impressive in voice quality and had the heft required. Both gentlemen should improve their vocal techniques which are rough and crude. Maestro BERTREAND DE BILLY knows the score and manages to coordinate and balance all the singers and orchestra masterfully.

May. 25 2014 01:22 PM
Richard Pairaudeau from Madrid

An interesting set of five operas for a musical celebration of Shakespeare’s birthday: three ‘greats’ and two interesting others. Shakespeare perhaps was born on St George’s Day (23rd April 1564), and died on the same day 52 years later. The 23rd April is therefore a resonant and appropriate date for international celebrations of books and of reading: long may this civilized practice continue! St George’s Day has some further interesting literary overtones. Miguel de Cervantes died on a 22nd April, and was buried a day later, on the 23rd April 1616 – the day of Shakespeare’s death. William Wordsworth also left this world on a 23rd of April – in 1850. The latter has not, to the best of my knowledge, inspired an opera. However, a short series of operas based on works by Cervantes would be interesting as a comparison to your Shakespeare collection. I’d offer as a start, Manuel de Falla’s fascinating miniature “El Retablo de Maese Pedro”.

Apr. 28 2014 01:37 PM
Sanford Rothenberg from Brooklyn

With over 200 operas having been written based on the works of Shakespeare,picking five for this series will end up omitting important pieces.Admirers of "Romeo et Juliette" by Gounod,"Hamlet" by Thomas,and works by Rossini,Salieri,Bloch,(etc.)may well feel slighted by the exclusion of their preferred works.

Apr. 22 2014 04:10 AM

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Operavore is WQXR's digital 24/7 audio stream and devoted to Opera. The Operavore blog features breaking news, expert commentary and reviews by writers Fred Plotkin, David Patrick Stearns, Amanda Angel and others. The music stream features a continuous, carefully programmed mix of classic and contemporary opera recordings.

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