Shakespeare and Musical Adaptations

Instructor: Steven Monte
Offered by Macaulay Honors College
Wednesdays, 6:00 – 8:40pm
Macaulay Honors College, Classroom TBD

This seminar focuses on six Shakespeare plays and on adaptations of them ranging from musical theater to opera. It is designed as an upper-level course in English, Music, or Humanities; Macaulay students in all majors are welcome.

The seminar’s general aims are to promote understanding and appreciation of different but related art forms, and to develop a cross-disciplinary dialogue about literature and music. More specifically, the Shakespeare plays will be examined in relation to their performance history and to current theater practices; the musical adapations will be discussed as both interpretations of Shakespeare and as artworks responding to their own cultural moments.

The Shakespeare plays will likely include: Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, Othello, and the “Falstaff plays” (Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, and The Merry Wives of Windsor). The musical adaptations will likely include: Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate, Charles Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, and Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello and Falstaff. (Other possibilities include: Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, and The Tempest.)

The specific plays and musical adaptions are subject to change based on opportunities to attend affordable performances and events in New York. The last time the seminar was offered, for example, there was a Shakespeare and Verdi conversation with performances at Hunter College. Live events aside, there will be video screenings of performances almost every week.

Preliminary syllabus available here.

Meet the instructor, Professor Steve Monte

Course Codes:

MHC 323 | CRN: 38015