Ware Musical Theatre


All The World's A Stage

Friday 8th July 2005 to Saturday 9th July 2005
Ware Drill Hall

Directed by John Tripp and Deborah Miles-Johnson

The World ls But A Play...

The influence of William Shakespeare on English literature is undeniably impressive. His plays: histories, tragedies and comedies; his sonnets, poems and songs are regularly quoted (not always knowingly), misquoted, mimicked, updated, and most of all performed by individuals and groups, ranging from the Royal Shakespeare Company to numerous school productions, from repertory groups to comedy ensembles such as the Reduced Shakespeare Company.

Of course his impact extends well beyond the literary world, and his creations (or extracts from them) can be heard and seen every day. But maybe it is in the world of music that his reach becomes most remarkable, and that is what has given rise to tonights concert. Ware Operatic Society's summer concert always provides a good opportunity for the group to delve into a wide range of music, normally with a stage connection. When we first discussed the idea of compiling a concert based on the works of William Shakespeare. we knew that we would be tapping into a rich vein, and we hope that we have found a balance of songs and choruses to please everyone.

Our programme starts, aptly, with the rousing chorus "Another Opening, Another Show" from Cole Porters musical, Kiss Me Kate. This shoq based on Ihe Taming Of The Shrew, is full of hit songs, and we'll be hearing more from it towards the end of the evening. lmmediately the clock is turned back just over 300 years to a set of pieces from Henry Purcell's Opera, The Fairy Queen, based on A Midsummer Night's Dream. "Hush, No More" and "lf Love's A Sweet Passion" typify the beautiful lilting music of Henry Purcell and the duet between Coridon and Mopsa show his dramatic flair and keen eye for characterisation.

This is followed by a set of songs from Twelfth Night and As You Like lt. The contemporary and entertaining arrangement of "When That I Was", is by Geoff Davidson, written especially for the lmperial Male Voice Choir. The last three songs in this group comprise a beautiful and haunting song cycle by the English composer Roger Quilter. Sandwiched in between these, we are pleased to present a public world premier of an arrangement of "Come Away Death", by Gordon Johnstone. This piece was written while he was rmprisoned in an ltalian pOW camp during the second World War. lt has not been performed since then. To complete the first half, we return to an old favourite, Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story, which is, of course, based on Romeo and Juliet.

The second half starts with the ladies performing "You Spotted Snakes", from Mendelssohn's incidental music for A Midsummer Night's Dream. We then move to "serious" Opera with the wonderful "Chorus of The Scottish Refugees" from Verdi's highly dramatic realisation of Macbeth.

To demonstrate the great variety that Shakespeares inspiration can lead to, we have included two very different arrangements of the same song, "lt Was A Lover And His Lass", from As You Like lt. The first is a traditional English madrigal, by Thomas Morley and the second a much more laid back late 2Oth century version by John Rutter.

We return to earlier music, with Sir Henry Bishops arrangement of "Lo, Hear The Gentle Lark" from Venus And Adoms, a soprano song accompanied by piano and flute. This is followed by two extracts from lhe Merry Wives Of Windsor, by Otto Nicolai. Nicolai is one of those "one hit wonder" composers - highly prolific, but only remembered for his final Opera.

To end, the mood lightens with more songs from Kiss, Me Kate, and a finale of the closing number from Ralph Vaughan William s cantata ln Windsor Forest. This climactrc piece is an extract from the Opera, Sir John ln Love, once again based on lhe Merry Wives Of Windsor.

John Tripp