From singing to the postman when she was less than two years old to her annual sell-out tours in the 2000s, Barbara Dickson has been captivating her fans for the best part of sixty years. In her autobiography she describes the joys of growing up in Fife in the fifties, of moving to Edinburgh at seventeen to find her place in the world and the struggles of trying to make a living on the Scottish folk scene.
Despite becoming Scotland's bestselling solo artist in the seventies and eighties and having huge hits such as 'I Know Him So Well' and 'Caravan Song', Barbara was not content to have just a successful singing career. She turned to another: acting. A regular on prime-time television, Barbara also took to musicals, making Blood Brothers and Spend, Spend, Spend her own. Her time onstage earned her many acting accolades but her pursuit of perfection lead to complete exhaustion from which she fought hard to recover.
Barbara's is a warm, fascinating story that encompasses the best of British music, stage and television and above all tells the story of an ordinary woman with an extraordinary voice.
In this book, Daniel Albright, one of today's most intrepid and vividly communicative explorers of the border territory between literature and music, offers insights into how composers of genius can help us to understand Shakespeare. Musicking Shakespeare demonstrates how four composers -- Purcell, Berlioz, Verdi, and Britten -- respond to the distinctive features of Shakespeare's plays: their unwieldiness, their refusal to fit into interpretive boxes, their ranting quality, their arbitrary bursts of gorgeousness. The four composers break the normal forms of opera -- of music altogether -- in order to come to terms with the challenges that Shakespeare presents to the music dramatist. Musicking Shakespeare begins with an analysis of Shakespeare's play The Tempest as an imaginary Jacobean opera and as a real Restoration opera. It then discusses works that respond with wit and sophistication to Shakespeare's irony, obscurity, contortion, and heft: Berlioz's Rom‚o et Juliette, Verdi's Macbeth, Purcell's The Fairy Queen, and Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream. These works are problematic in the ways that Shakespeare's plays are problematic. Shakespeare's favorite dramatic device is to juxtapose two kinds of theatres within a single play, such as the formal masque and the loose Elizabethan stage. The four composers studied here respond to this aspect of Shakespeare's art by going beyond the comfort zone of the operatic medium. The music dramas they devise call opera into question. Daniel Albright is the Ernest Bernbaum Professor of Literature at Harvard University.
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