King Lear at The Grange
Katie Derham and cast dive into the ins and outs of this original production.
"Just occasionally, something startling and wholly original occurs in the world of the performing arts, which has the potential to change the cultural landscape and become an historic event. Imagine a Shakespeare play, often called his “finest achievement”, being performed not by actors but instead by singers, indeed an ensemble company of some the finest operatic actor-singers which this country has produced in recent times. The original part is that they sing not a note, but enact just Shakespeare’s words.
The play is King Lear, and the role of the eponymous monarch one of the scarcely scalable peaks of the repertory which few great actors can resist. Having conquered Wagner’s Wotan, Sir John Tomlinson sets his eyes towards Lear, with Sir Thomas Allen as Gloucester. The cast is a roll call of British operatic stars.
Multiple award-winning director Keith Warner, well known to British audiences from his acclaimed Ring Cycle at Covent Garden and the sensational Vanessa at Glyndebourne, curates this unique project and creates a new production for The Grange Festival, designed by his Vanessa collaborator Ashley Martin-Davis, with original incidental music by Nigel Osborne.
What can singers, these singers, bring uniquely to Shakespearean verse? An obvious first claim is rhythm, quite apart from vocal resonance and dramatic instinct. It should never be forgotten that all singers’ operatic music is a response to words and their multiple layers of meaning. This production promises to bring fundamental dramatic truths to the fore in surprising and transformative ways."
Text by The Grange.