Rufus Wainwright’s Shakespeare Sonnets

Rufus Wainwright‘s newest project, following the critically acclaimed Want One, Want Two, Release The Stars and Rufus Does Judy, envolves putting Shakespeare sonnets to music. Apparently a work in progress still but what I’ve heard so far sounds beautiful:

Both Sharl and I are avid Rufus fans — his music (or dresscode for that matter) may not be your cup of tea though. 😉

More clips at Roger Bourland’s weblog.

8 thoughts on “Rufus Wainwright’s Shakespeare Sonnets”

  1. I was sad to read that Rufus went through a bad crystal meth addiction. Looks like he’s definitely back on his feet now even if he’s really not a tit man.

  2. A very interesting attempt at bringing complex metered poetry to music. For that alone, I give Rufus high marks. Still, the poem’s meaning seems to get blurred and lost and the entire focus is on the sound of the words and Rufus’ voice instead. Would I listen to an entire album of him singing Shakespeare Sonnets? I think there are many valid reasons why Shakespeare’s work is recited and not sung.

  3. [quote comment=”6581″]the entire focus is on the sound of the words[/quote]
    erhm… that’s the very definition of poetry, is it not?

    Shakespeare Sonnet #29:

    When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
    I all alone beweep my outcast state
    And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
    And look upon myself and curse my fate,
    Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
    Featured like him, like him with friends possess’d,
    Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
    With what I most enjoy contented least;
    Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
    Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
    Like to the lark at break of day arising
    From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
    For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
    That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

  4. “Music, when combined with a pleasurable idea, is poetry; music without the idea is simply music; the idea without the music is prose from its very definiteness.”

    — Edgar Allen Poe, The Portable Poe (p.586)

    I’ve found the above definition to be the most succinct that I have ever come across that separates poetry and music, and a useful one in our discussion, Barry.

    We have all heard excellent adaptations of great works of literature put to music (“Tales of Mystery and Imagination: Edgar Allen Poe” by the Alan Parsons Project, for instance). In all these cases, the meaning of the work was never blurred by the artist adapting the work.

    It’s my opinion, Barry, that Rufus did just this. Yes, the music was beautiful, but in concentrating on the music alone, the poetry was lost.

  5. I’m not really a fan, but I guess y’all know that Rufus’ debut opera, Prima Donna, premieres in Manchester next week?

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