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The Edinburgh Companion to Shakespeare and the Arts$
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Mark Thornton Burnett and Adrian Streete

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780748635238

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748635238.001.0001

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Shakespeare and Opera

Shakespeare and Opera

(p.142) 8 Shakespeare and Opera
The Edinburgh Companion to Shakespeare and the Arts

Adrian Streete

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter reports that both Hector Berlioz and Giuseppe Verdi were dominant presences in the European obsession with opera in the nineteenth century. An analysis of some complex confluences of Shakespearean history, politics and performance is presented. The chapter then explores in detail the genesis and first performances of Otello. Some of the major recorded interpretations of the role of Otello during the twentieth century are reviewed. It also shows that the performance history of Otello is as contested and complex as the original play upon which Verdi and his team of collaborators drew. Today, the world's opera houses offer only one of many outlets for operatic performances. There are any number of iconic singers whose interpretations of the canonical Shakespearean operas either on recordings or on film deserve wider exposure and further examination beyond the remit of classical music and opera scholars.

Keywords:   Shakespearean operas, Shakespeare, Hector Berlioz, Giuseppe Verdi, Otello, opera houses, Shakespearean history, politics

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