The Taming of the Shrew




The first opera based on the play was Ferdinando Bertoni's opera buffa Il duca di Atene (1780), with libretto by Carlo Francesco Badini.[155] Vicente Martín y Soler's La capricciosa coretta (1795), with libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, is also an opera buffa.[156]

Frederic Reynolds' Catherine and Petruchio (1828) is an adaptation of Garrick, with an overture taken from Gioachino Rossini, songs derived from numerous Shakespeare plays and sonnets, and music by John Braham and Thomas Simpson Cooke.[157] Starring Fanny Ayton and James William Wallack, the opera premiered at Drury Lane, but it was not successful, and closed after only a few performances.[158] Hermann Goetz' Der Widerspänstigen Zähmung (1874), with libretto by Joseph Viktor Widmann, is a comic opera, which focuses on the Bianca subplot, and cuts back the taming story. It was first performed at the original National Theatre Mannheim.[159] John Kendrick Bangs' Katherine: A Travesty (1888) is a Gilbert and Sullivan-style parody operetta which premiered in the Metropolitan Opera.[160] Spyridon Samaras' La furia domata: commedia musicale in tre atti (1895) is a now lost lyric comedy with libretto by Enrico Annibale Butti and Giulio Macchi, which premiered at the Teatro Lirico.[156] Ruperto Chapí's Las bravías (1896), with libretto by José López Silva and Carlos Fernández Shaw, is a part sainete, part zarzuela. The production was a huge success in Spain, with over 200 performances in 1896 alone. It continued to be performed regularly until 1926.[161]

Johan Wagenaar's De getemde feeks (1909) is the second of three overtures Wagenaar wrote based on Shakespeare, the others being Koning Jan (1891) and Driekoningenavond (1928).[162] Another overture inspired by the play is Alfred Reynolds' The Taming of the Shrew Overture (1927).[163] Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari's verismo opera Sly, ovvero la leggenda del dormiente risvegliato (1927) focuses on the Induction, with libretto by Giovacchino Forzano. A tragedy, the opera depicts Sly as a hard-drinking and debt-ridden poet who sings in a London pub. When he is tricked into believing that he is a lord, his life improves, but upon learning it is a ruse, he mistakenly concludes the woman he loves (Dolly) only told him she loved him as part of the ruse. In despair, he kills himself by cutting his wrists, with Dolly arriving too late to save him. Starring Aureliano Pertile and Mercedes Llopart, it was first performed at La Scala in Milan.[164] Rudolf Karel's The Taming of the Shrew is an unfinished opera upon which he worked between 1942 and 1944.[156] Philip Greeley Clapp's The Taming of the Shrew (1948) was first performed at the Metropolitan Opera.[165] Vittorio Giannini's The Taming of the Shrew (1953) is an opera buffa, with libretto by Giannini and Dorothy Fee. It was first performed at the Cincinnati Music Hall, starring Dorothy Short and Robert Kircher.[165] Vissarion Shebalin's Ukroshchenye stroptivoy (1957), with libretto by Abram Akimovich Gozenpud, was Shebalin's last opera and was immediately hailed as a masterpiece throughout Russia.[166] Dominick Argento's Christopher Sly (1962), with libretto by John Manlove, is a comic opera in two scenes and an interlude, first performed in the University of Minnesota. Sly is duped by a Lord into believing that he himself is a lord. However, he soon becomes aware of the ruse, and when left alone, he flees with the Lord's valuables and his two mistresses.[167]


The earliest known musical adaptation of the play was a ballad opera based on Charles Johnson's Cobler of Preston. Called The Cobler of Preston's Opera, the piece was anonymously written, although William Dunkin is thought by some scholars as a likely candidate. Rehearsals for the premier began in Smock Alley in October 1731, but sometime in November or December, the show was cancelled. It was instead performed by a group of children (including an eleven-year-old Peg Woffington) in January 1732 at Signora Violante's New Booth in Dame Street. It was subsequently published in March.[168]

James Worsdale's A Cure for a Scold is also a ballad opera. First performed at Drury Lane in 1735, starring Kitty Clive and Charles Macklin, Cure was an adaptation of Lacy's Sauny the Scot rather than Shakespeare's original Shrew.[169] Petruchio was renamed Manly, and Katherina was renamed Margaret (nicknamed Peg). At the end, there is no wager. Instead, Peg pretends she is dying, and as Petruchio runs for a doctor, she reveals she is fine, and declares "you have taught me what 'tis to be a Wife, and I shall make it my Study to be obliging and obedient," to which Manly replies "My best Peg, we will exchange Kindness, and be each others Servants." After the play has finished, the actress playing Peg steps forward and speaks directly to the audience as herself; "Well, I must own, it wounds me to the Heart/To play, unwomanly, so mean a Part./What – to submit, so tamely – so contented,/Thank Heav'n! I'm not the Thing I represented."[170]

The most famous musical adaptation is Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate, with music and lyrics by Porter and book by Samuel and Bella Spewack. At least partially based on the 1935/1936 Theatre Guild production of Taming of the Shrew, starring husband and wife Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, whose backstage fights became legendary, the musical tells the story of a husband and wife acting duo (Fred and Lilli) attempting to stage The Taming of the Shrew, but whose backstage fights keep getting in the way.[171][172] The musical opened on Broadway at the New Century Theatre in 1948, running for a total of 1,077 performances. Directed by John C. Wilson with choreography by Hanya Holm, it starred Patricia Morison and Alfred Drake.[173] The production moved to the West End in 1951, directed by Samuel Spewack with choreography again by Holm, and starring Patricia Morrison and Bill Johnson. It ran for 501 performances.[173] As well as being a box office hit, the musical was also a critical success, winning five Tony Awards; Best Authors (Musical), Best Original Score, Best Costume Design, Best Musical and Best Producers (Musical).[174] The play has since been revived numerous times in various countries. Its 1999 revival at the Martin Beck Theatre, directed by Michael Blakemore and starring Marin Mazzie and Brian Stokes Mitchell, was especially successful, winning another five Tonys; Best Actor (Musical), Best Costume Design, Best Director (Musical), Best Orchestrations, and Best Revival (Musical).[175]

The first ballet version of the play was Maurice Béjart's La mégère apprivoisée. Using the music of Alessandro Scarlatti, it was originally performed by the Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris in 1954.[176] The best known ballet adaptation is John Cranko's The Taming of the Shrew, first performed by the Stuttgart Ballet at the Staatsoper Stuttgart in 1969.[156] Another ballet adaptation is Louis Falco's Kate's Rag, first performed by the Louis Falco Dance Company at the Akademie der Künste in 1980.[177] In 1988, Aleksandre Machavariani composed a ballet suite, but it was not performed until 2009, when his son, conductor Vakhtang Machavariani, gave a concert at the Georgian National Music Center featuring music by Modest Mussorgsky, Sergei Prokofiev and some of his father's pieces.[178]




In 1924, extracts from the play were broadcast on BBC Radio, performed by the Cardiff Station Repertory Company as the eight episode of a series of programs showcasing Shakespeare's plays, entitled Shakespeare Night.[179] Extracts were also broadcast in 1925 as part of Shakespeare: Scene and Story, with Edna Godfrey-Turner and William Charles Macready,[180] and in 1926 as part of Shakespeare's Heroines, with Madge Titheradge and Edmund Willard.[181] In 1927, a forty-three minute truncation of the play was broadcast on BBC National Programme, with Barbara Couper and Ian Fleming.[182] In 1932, National Programme aired another truncated version, this one running eighty-five minutes, and again starring Couper, with Francis James as Petruchio.[183] In 1935, Peter Creswell directed a broadcast of the relatively complete text (only the Bianca subplot was trimmed) on National Programme, starring Mary Hinton and Godfrey Tearle.[184] This was the first non-theatrical version of the play to feature Sly, who was played by Stuart Robertson.[185] In 1941, Creswell directed another adaptation for BBC Home Service, again starring Tearle, with Fay Compton as Katherina.[186] In 1947, BBC Light Programme aired extracts for their Theatre Programme from John Burrell's Edinburgh Festival production, with Patricia Burke and Trevor Howard.[187] In 1954, the full-length play aired on BBC Home Service, directed by Peter Watts, starring Mary Wimbush and Joseph O'Conor, with Norman Shelley as Sly.[188] BBC Radio 4 aired another full-length broadcast (without the Induction) in 1973 as part of their Monday Night Theatre series, directed by Ian Cotterell, starring Fenella Fielding and Paul Daneman.[189] In 1989, BBC Radio 3 aired the full play, directed by Jeremy Mortimer, starring Cheryl Campbell and Bob Peck, with William Simons as Sly.[190] In 2000, BBC Radio 3 aired another full-length production (without the Induction) as part of their Shakespeare for the New Millennium series, directed by Melanie Harris, and starring Ruth Mitchell and Gerard McSorley.[191]

In the United States, the first major radio production was in July 1937 on NBC Blue Network, when John Barrymore adapted the play into a forty-five minute piece, starring Elaine Barrie and Barrymore himself.[192] In August of the same year, CBS Radio aired a sixty-minute adaptation directed by Brewster Mason, starring Frieda Inescort and Edward G. Robinson. The adaptation was written by Gilbert Seldes, who employed a narrator (Godfrey Tearle) to fill in gaps in the story, tell the audience about the clothes worn by the characters and offer opinions as to the direction of the plot. For example, Act 4, Scene 5 ends with the narrator musing "We know that Katherina obeys her husband, but has her spirit been really tamed I wonder?"[185] In 1940, a thirty-minute musical version of the play written by Joseph Gottlieb and Irvin Graham aired on CBS as part of their Columbia Workshop series, starring Nan Sunderland and Carleton Young.[193] In 1941, NBC Blue Network aired a sixty-minute adaptation as part of their Great Plays series, written by Ranald MacDougall, directed by Charles Warburton, and starring Grace Coppin and Herbert Rudley.[194] In 1949, ABC Radio aired an adaptation directed by Homer Fickett, starring Joyce Redman and Burgess Meredith.[195] In 1953, NBC broadcast William Dawkins' production live from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The cast list for this production has been lost, but it is known to have featured George Peppard.[196] In 1960, NBC aired a sixty-minute version adapted by Carl Ritchie from Robert Loper's stage production for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, starring Ann Hackney and Gerard Larson.[197]

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