Tuesday, January 05, 2010

What you will. . .

Twelfth Night is almost upon us--let there be mirth and laughter!  There seems to be a bit of confusion as to whether or not the holiday is January 5th or 6th (the 12th day is the 6th, of course), but we will celebrate it whenever the movie of the same name (the 1996 version) arrives from Netflix (since someone else has checked it out from the library right now).  In addition to movie watching,  here are some resources for the related Shakespeare play that we will be using today and tomorrow:

Tales from Shakespeare, by Charles and Mary Lamb. In this narrative version of the Bard's plays, Twelfth Night is sixteen pages long, and the language used is that of the authors, i.e., that of early nineteenth century England.  It is, however, easier to read than a novel written for adults around the same time, as the authors wrote it for children, and I find it particularly engaging.  I found the book in my middle school's library and devoured it almost in one sitting at about age twelve or so.  The entire book is available at Bartleby.com, and Twelfth Night can be found here.

Many people prefer the retellings in Shakespeare Stories I and II by Leon Garfield (and illustrated by Michael Foreman), as, in addition to more current language (first published in 1985 and 1994, respectively), there are some fun black-and-white pictures in and amongst the text, as well as some truly gorgeous full-color, full page illustrations placed sporadically throughout the book.  Twelfth Night has the distinction of being the first story in the first volume, and is twenty pages long.  I will likely choose this version to read aloud with my five- and eight-year-olds, but will give the Lamb to DS (almost twelve) in one of his workboxes tomorrow.  We'll see how that goes.  : )

The only movie version (the one from 1996) I have seen stars Imogen Stubbs as Viola/Cesario, Bellatrix Lestrange Helena Bonham Carter as the fair Olivia, and Ben Kingsley as a most excellent Feste.  But, there are at least a couple of others, including an animated version (on disc four of the set), one from the BBC (1979), and one directed by and starring Kenneth Branaugh (1988).

There are seven songs in Twelfth Night, and many, if not all, can be found in various incarnations.  In the play, four of the songs are sung by Feste, and three by Sir Toby.  Of the seven, I'd guess "O Mistress Mine" is the most popular text chosen by composers, and the one found in the 1996 movie (sung by Ben Kingsley) is particularly charming:



But there is also a fairly new choral setting (2001) by Romanian composer György Orbán (b. 1947) that appears with regularity on concert programs:



Sung by Chicago a cappella in this 2005 recording.  Text below:

O Mistress mine, where are you roaming?
O stay and hear! your true love's coming
    That can sing both high and low;
Trip no further, pretty sweeting,
Journeys end in lovers' meeting--
     Every wise man's son doth know.

What is love? 'tis not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter;
    What's to come is still unsure:
In delay there lies no plenty,--
Then come kiss me, Sweet-and-twenty,
     Youth's a stuff will not endure.

3 comments:

sheila said...

We had our 12th night cake last night and FDPG got it: this morning she had the boys making her bed and doing her bathroom chores. Then she made her father walk around the inside of the house 3X with her securely clinging to his foot. You could say that some 12th night kings take their duties very seriously. Maybe a little too seriously...

Mrs. Deeply Suburban said...

We just saw the movie version a few days before Christmas. I don't know why I didn't save it for Twelfth Night itself. But I love, love, love Nigel Hawthorne as Malvolio prancing around in his yellow stockings.

Fiddler said...

Sheila, my kids would have hounded me about the cake if they knew about that particular tradition. But I'm baked out after the entire month of December and haven't let the cat out of the bag yet.

Mrs. DS, thanks for stopping by. Isn't Nigel Hawthorne just perfect in the movie? I'm a fan of Imogen Stubbs, too, ever since I saw the Anna Lee mysteries back in the '90s. This particular Twelfth Night has much to recommend itself!