Shakespeare Songs Trio

Andy Sheppard, saxophone tenor and soprano, Guillaume de Chassy, piano, Christophe Marguet, drums, Delphine Lanson, narrator

Wednesday, 2 March at 20:30
Venue: Crystal Garden

Book NowTicket prices: $45

The works of William Shakespeare have inspired creative artists across all genres. Shakespeare’s Songs is a new Anglo-French project that combines the talents of three leading contemporary jazz voices, weaving their magic around a series of musical portraits of characters from Shakespeare’s plays and poems. Part improvised and part written, the music draws inspiration from Renaissance composers Thomas Morley and William Byrd, giving great importance to colour, melody, dynamics and, most of all, to space and silence.

Drummer Christophe Marguet and pianist Guillaume de Chassy are an established pair of French artists who invited Andy Sheppard, whom they call ‘the great English poet of the saxophone’, to join them in their musical exploration of Shakespeare’s world.

« Overture » inspired by Le Roi a fait battre tambour, a traditional french song from the 17th century.
A song from Henry IV’s time, probably inspired by the tragic fate of the King’s mistress, Gabrielle d’Estrée. The young Marquise is said to have been poisoned by jealous Queen Marie de Médicis. A very shakespearian drama indeed…
« Perdita » inspired by The Winter’s Tale III-3
Leontes, King of Sicilia, accuses his wife of infidelity, and declares that the child she is bearing must be illegitimate. He throws her in prison, where she gives birth to a girl, Perdita. The King then orders Lord Antigonus to take the baby and abandon her on the remote coast of Bohemia.
HERMIONE
Good Antigonus,
Since fate, against thy better disposition,
Hath made thy person for the thrower-out
Of my poor babe, according to thine oath,
Places remote enough are in Bohemia,
There weep and leave it crying; and, for the babe
Is counted lost for ever, Perdita,
I prithee, called.
« Vengeance won’t take place » inspired by THE TEMPEST
Prospero, rightful Duke of Milan, and his daughter, Miranda, have been stranded for twelve years on an island after Prospero’s jealous brother Antonio (aided by Alonso, the King of Naples) deposed him.
One day, Prospero, having surmised that his brother, Antonio, is on a ship passing close by the island, raises a storm which causes the ship to run aground. Also on the ship are Antonio’s friend and fellow conspirator, King Alonso of Naples, Alonso’s brother and son (Sebastian and Ferdinand). Prospero contrives to separate the shipwreck survivors into several groups by his spells. Prospero manipulates the course of his enemies’ path through the island, drawing them closer and closer to him.
In the end, after many hardships, all the main characters are brought together before Prospero, who forgives them.

PROSPERO
Most cruelly
Didst thou, Alonso, use me and my daughter:
Thy brother was a furtherer in the act.
Thou art pinch’d fort now, Sebastian. Flesh and blood,
You, brother mine, that entertain’d ambition,
Expell’d remorse and nature; who, with Sebastian,
Whose inward pinches therefore are most strong,
Would here have kill’d your king; I do forgive thee,
Unnatural though thou art.

“Capulets and Montagues go dancing” inspired by Romeo and Juliet

The Montagues and Capulets are sworn enemies in Verona. Montaigue’s heir, Romeo, attends the ball hosted by the Capulets in their home where he meets and falls in love with Juliet, Capulet’s daughter. Let the party begin !
CAPULET:
Welcome, gentlemen! ladies that have their toes
Unplagued with corns will have a bout with you.
Ah ha, my mistresses! which of you all
Will now deny to dance? she that makes dainty,
She, I’ll swear, hath corns; am I come near ye now?
Welcome, gentlemen! I have seen the day
That I have worn a visor and could tell
A whispering tale in a fair lady’s ear,
Such as would please: ’tis gone, ’tis gone, ’tis gone:
You are welcome, gentlemen! come, musicians, play.
A hall, a hall! give room! and foot it, girls.
More light, you knaves; and turn the tables up,
And quench the fire, the room is grown too hot.
« Othello’s tears » inspired by OTHELLO V – 2

Driven mad by jealousy, Othello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army, smothers his beloved wife Desdemona to death. Belatedly realising Desdemona’s innocence, Othello commits suicide.

OTHELLO:
When I have pluck’d the rose,
I cannot give it vital growth again.
It must needs wither: I’ll smell it on the tree.
Ah balmy breath, that dost almost persuade
Justice to break her sword! One more, one more.
Be thus when thou art dead, and I will kill thee,
And love thee after. One more, and this the last:
So sweet was ne’er so fatal. I must weep,
But they are cruel tears: this sorrow’s heavenly;
It strikes where it doth love.
« Juliet in the mirror » inspired by Romeo and Juliet
Nocturnal encounter between the two lovers on Juliet’s balcony.
JULIET (To Romeo)
‘Tis almost morning; I would have thee gone:
And yet no further than a wanton’s bird;
Who lets it hop a little from her hand,
Like a poor prisoner in his twisted gyves,
And with a silk thread plucks it back again,
So loving-jealous of his liberty.

JULIET:
My only love sprung from my only hate!
Too early seen unknown, and known too late!
Prodigious birth of love it is to me,
That I must love a loathed enemy.

« Cordelia » inspired by KING LEAR I – 1

King Lear, who is elderly and wants to retire from power, decides to divide his realm among his three daughters, and declares he’ll offer the largest share to the one who loves him the most. The two eldest declare their love excessively. When it is finally the turn of his youngest daughter, Cordelia, she speaks honestly but bluntly, which infuriates the King. In his anger, he disinherits Cordelia.
CORDELIA
I yet beseech your majesty
If for I want that glib and oily art,
To speak and purpose not; since what I well intend,
I’ll do’t before I speak,–that you make known
It is no vicious blot, murder, or foulness,
No unchaste action, or dishonour’d step,
That hath deprived me of your grace and favour;
But even for want of that for which I am richer,
A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue
As I am glad I have not, though not to have it
Hath lost me in your liking.

« Hamlet in front of himself » inspired by HAMLET IV – 4

Set in the Kingdom of Denmark, the play dramatises the revenge Prince Hamlet is instructed to enact on his uncle Claudius. Claudius had murdered his own brother, Hamlet’s father King Hamlet, and subsequently seized the throne, marrying his deceased brother’s widow, Hamlet’s mother Gertrude.

HAMLET
How all occasions do inform against me,
And spur my dull revenge! What is a man,
If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more.
Sure, he that made us with such large discourse,
Looking before and after, gave us not
That capability and god-like reason
To fust in us unused.
– How stand I then,
That have a father kill’d, a mother stain’d,
Excitements of my reason and my blood,
And let all sleep?
« Marching Forest » inspired by Macbeth IV-1
The bloodthirsty King of Scotland, Macbeth, is told by three witches that he will be safe until Great Birnam Wood comes to his castle on Dunsinane Hill.
Macbeth is certain that the witches’ prophecies guarantee his invincibility, but is struck with fear when he learns that the English army is advancing on Dunsinane shielded with boughs cut from Birnam Wood, in apparent fulfillment of one of the prophecies.
THIRD APPARITION
Be lion-mettled, proud; and take no care
Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are:
Macbeth shall never vanquish’d be until
Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill
Shall come against him.
“The wrath of Caliban” inspired by The Tempest II-2
Caliban, a deformed monster, was initially adopted and raised by Prospero. He taught Prospero how to survive on the island, while Prospero and Miranda taught Caliban religion and their own language. Following Caliban’s attempted rape of Miranda, he had been compelled by Prospero to serve as the so-called magician’s slave.

CALIBAN
All the infections that the sun sucks up
From bogs, fens, flats, on Prosper fall and make him
By inch-meal a disease! His spirits hear me
And yet I needs must curse. But they’ll nor pinch,
Fright me with urchin–shows, pitch me i’ the mire,
Nor lead me, like a firebrand, in the dark
Out of my way, unless he bid ’em; but
For every trifle are they set upon me;
Sometime like apes that mow and chatter at me
And after bite me, then like hedgehogs which
Lie tumbling in my barefoot way and mount
Their pricks at my footfall; sometime am I
All wound with adders who with cloven tongues
Do hiss me into madness.
« During that night » inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream III-2
Two loving couples… a dispute between the King of the fairies and his Queen ….Puck the sprite and his magical juice … a group of six amateur actors rehearsing for the Prince’s wedding … everybody will interwine in a strange forest, during a bewitching night.
Deux couples d’amoureux transis, une dispute entre le roi des elfes et la reine des fées, le farfadet Puck et sa potion enchantée, une troupe de comédiens amateurs qui préparent une pièce pour le mariage d’un prince … tous vont s’entrecroiser dans une forêt étrange et magique, le temps d’une nuit d’été ensorcelante qui ressemble à un rêve.

PUCK
On the ground
Sleep sound:
I’ll apply
To your eye,
Gentle lover, remedy.
When thou wakest,
Thou takest
True delight
In the sight
Of thy former lady’s eye:
And the country proverb known,
That every man should take his own,
In your waking shall be shown:
Jack shall have Jill;
Nought shall go ill;
The man shall have his mare again, and all shall be well.