This Friday, in a special episode of In Tune broadcast live from Stratford-upon-Avon in front of a studio audience, Sean Rafferty launches Radio 3’s Shakespeare Anniversary weekend: Sounds of Shakespeare. The event, which can also be heard on BBC Radio 3, opens with the world premiere performance of Roxanna Panufnik’s Love Sought, for which Rachel Roberts (viola) is joined by mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge and pianist James Baillieu. Commissioned by the BBC Shakespeare Festival 2016, to mark 400 years since the Bard’s birth, the work draws on text from Twelfth Night, with Roberts’ viola representing the voice of the play’s heroine and protagonist, Viola.
Speaking about the new commission, Roxanna Panufnik says:
“The text is from Act III scene i which finds the ship-wrecked girl Viola, dressed as Count Orsino’s male servant Cesario, sent to woo Olivia on behalf of the Count. I felt it made made sense to have a viola represent Viola and we can hear her/his puzzled reactions to Olivia’s declaration of love for her/him, instead of for Count Orsino. The interplay between the voice of Olivia and the viola’s representation of Viola highlights the double meanings contained in the verse.”
Peter Maniura, BBC Shakespeare Lives, adds:
“Shakespeare was a great songwriter; songs permeate the tragedies, comedies and histories and have provided a source of inspiration for composers, lyricists and performers for four centuries. On the 400th anniversary of his death, the BBC and Austrian broadcaster ORF, with the support of the European Broadcasting Union, have decided to commission a New Shakespeare Songbook offering today’s composers, and musicians across Europe, the chance to respond afresh to these timeless texts. But this isn’t just music to be heard, it’s meant to be seen as well. Composers and performers worked with film-makers and directors to produce new songs which were also conceived as films. The teams were free to use any Shakespeare text from his plays and sonnets and to set them in English, or in their native tongue. There was no restriction in terms of musical genre. The British songs, which include Panufnik’s Love Sought, were co-commissioned by BBC Shakespeare Lives and BBC Radio 3 and we hope everyone enjoys the imaginative, diverse and poetic results.”
(OLIVIA, Act III scene i, Twelfth Night:)
O, what a deal of scorn looks beautiful
In the contempt and anger of his lip!
A murderous guilt shows not itself more soon
Than love that would seem hid: love’s night is noon.
Cesario, by the roses of the spring,
By maidhood, honour, truth and every thing,
I love thee so, that, maugre all thy pride,
Nor wit nor reason can my passion hide.
Do not extort thy reasons from this clause,
For that I woo, thou therefore hast no cause,
But rather reason thus with reason fetter,
Love sought is good, but given unsought better.