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Othello and Music Exhibit at UVic

Rossini_Otello.pngJanelle Jenstad (ISE Associate Coordinating Editor) and UVic MA student Jessica Fishbein are co-curating an exhibit on "Othello and Music." Opening on September 29, this exhibit is timed to coincide with Pacific Opera Victoria's production of Guiseppe Verdi's Otello. This exhibition continues the partnership between the Internet Shakespeare Editions, the University of Victoria Libraries, and Pacific Opera Victoria. 

The UVic Libraries and Archives are unusually rich in materials pertaining to the subject of Shakespeare and music. Thanks to the Shakespeare Music Project, directed by Bryan Gooch and David Thatcher, UVic possesses originals or photocopies of many printed and manuscript scores, plus materials in the reference collections that were purchased to support the research project. The project was concluded in 1988 and published, in five volumes, by Oxford University Press in 1991 under the title A Shakespeare Music Catalogue. The Catalogue is a monumental bibliography of published and unpublished music, written from Shakespeare’s time to the present, which was related in any way to Shakespeare’s life and works. It includes a selected bibliography of books, articles, and dissertations on the subject of Shakespeare and music.

With advice from Dr. Paul Faber (ISE Music Editor), Jenstad and Fishbein have traced a narrative through the musical history of Othello. Not known as a particularly musical play, Othello nevertheless presents interesting musical challenges. Desdemona's famous "Willow Song" appears in 4.3 of the 1623 folio text but not in the 1622 quarto. This song and the drinking song, "Clink the Cannikin Clink," survive in early modern settings and have been frequently reset since then. The play has lent itself to operatic adaptation, mostly notably by Gioacchino Rossini (1816) and later by Verdi (in 1887).

The exhibit will feature rare books, musical scores, and theatrical ephemera from the ISE's collections and the University of Victoria Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA). Pictured here is the cover of Berio di Salsa's libretto for Rossini's Otello, sold as a souvenir at the Royal Italian Opera production of Otello at London's Covent Garden Theatre. We often overlook such ephemera, which delivered an interesting version of Shakespeare's work, translated from English to Italian, turned into a libretto, and then translated back into English. 

Where: Reading Room of UVic Special Collections and University Archives, Mearns A005

When: September 29 to November 5, 2015

Hours: Monday to Friday, 8:30-4:30