The Queen of the Night: The infinite variety of Cleopatra

In the image above, Constance Collier, magnificent as the dying Cleopatra, sits on her throne in a dimly-lit room, light sparkling off her crown, belt and spangled train. This 1906-07 London production of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra is considered a high point in the stage history of that play, with director/actor Herbert Beerbohm-Tree sparing no… Continue Reading »


Venus and Adonis: The classical myth that inspired Shakespeare’s epic poem and John Blow’s 17th-century opera

What many consider to be the earliest known English opera shares its mythological subject with Shakespeare’s most popular published work during his lifetime: the epic poem Venus and Adonis. Here we see great artists from different centuries using different art forms to make new creations from the same source material, putting their own mark on… Continue Reading »



Much Ado About Stuffing: Recreating an early modern stuffing recipe

Today, turkey and stuffing are central fare on the holiday table. But turkeys weren’t even known in England until the 1520s, when they were introduced by explorers returning from the Americas. Turkey was immediately popular in England; within a hundred years, turkeys had become a common Christmas food. The story with stuffing is less clear…. Continue Reading »


Excerpt – Shakespeare’s Church and the Pilgrim Fathers: Commemorating Plymouth Rock in Stratford

Did you know that the Pilgrims have a presence in the church where William Shakespeare was baptized and buried? A stained glass window that bears the inscription, “The Gift of America to Shakespeare’s Church,” shows the Pilgrims landing on Plymouth Rock, along with other scenes. This is just one of the many American connections to… Continue Reading »


Shakespeare and opera: Jealousy and tragedy in Verdi’s Otello

I find it fascinating that Verdi’s last two operas were both inspired by Shakespeare: Otello (1887) and Falstaff (1893), yet they are very different in story, style, and tone. Verdi looked to the Bard’s plays of Othello (1604) and the Merry Wives of Windsor (1600), plus the Henry plays, as a catalyst. There are plenty… Continue Reading »