The Tempest


2nd October 2010

Dramaten, Stockholm

This production, for the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, Sweden, opened on October 2nd 2010 and played in repertoire throughout the 2010/2011 season.

The Music

The performance includes the following music by Ludwig van Beethoven:

Missa Solemnis in D major, Op. 123: 1:a Agnus Dei nd 2:a Agnus Dei
Anna Tomowa-Sintow, Soprano / Patricia Payen, Alto / Robert Tear, Tenor / Robert lloyd, Bass
London Symphony Chorus & Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis, Conductor

String Quartet No. 16 in F major Op. 135: Lento assai; cantante e tranquillo
Guarneri Quartet: Arnold Steinhardt, Violin / John Dalley, Violin II / Michael Tree, Viola / David Soyer, Cello

Missa Solemnis in D major Op. 123: Sanctus
Anna Tomowa-Sintow, Soprano / Patricia Payen, Alto / Robert Tear, Tenor / Robert lloyd, Bass
London Symphony Chorus & Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis, Conductor

String Quartet No. 16 in F major Op. 135: Lento assai; Cavatina, Adagio molto espressivo
Guarneri Quartet: Arnold Steinhardt, Violin / John Dalley, Violin II / Michael Tree, Viola / David Soyer, Cello

Piano Sonata No. 16 in D minor Op. 31 No.2 "Tempest": Adagio* and Allegretto**
Friedrich Gulda*, Piano / Daniel Barenboim**

String Quartet No. 14 in C# minor Op. 131: Adagio ma non troppo e molto espressivo
Arnold Steinhardt, Violin / John Dalley, Violin II / Michael Tree, Viola / David Soyer, Cello

Symphony No. 5 in C minor Op. 67: Allegro (con brio)
Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Kurt Masur, Conductor

Octet for wind instruments in E flat major Op. 103: Menuetto
The Albion Ensemble: George Caird, Victoria Wood, Oboe / Angela Malsbury, Michael Harris, Clarinet / Peter Francomb, Simon Morgan, Horn / Gareth Newman, Robin Kennard, Trombone

String Quartet No. 14 in C sharp minor Op. 131: Andante ma non troppo e molto cantabile
Guarneri Quartet: Arnold Steinhardt, Violin / John Dalley, Violin II / Michael Tree, Viola / David Soyer, Cello

Symphony No. 6 in F major Op. 68 “Pastoral”: Szene am Bach – andante molto mosso och Gewitter, Sturm-allegro
Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Kurt Masur, Conductor

String Quartet No. 15 in A minor Op. 132: Heiliger Dankgesang eines Genesenen an die Gottheit, in der lydischen Tonart
Guarneri Quartet: Arnold Steinhardt, Violin / John Dalley, Violin II / Michael Tree, Viola / David Soyer, Cello

Piano Sonata No. 5 in E flat major Op. 73 No.2 “Emperor Concerto“: Adagio un poco mosso
Friedrich Gulda, Piano / Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Hornst Stein, Composter

Read my short essay for the programme about the music of The Tempest below the cast list.

The Tempest

Written byWilliam Shakespeare
In a Swedish translation by Britt G. Hallqvist & Claes Scharr

Creative team

Director John Caird
Set and Costumes David Farley
Lighting Torben Lendorph
ChoreographyPär Isberg
Wigs and Make-UpPeter Westerberg / Sofia Ranow Boix-Vives
Sound Jacob Wilhelmsson
Dramaturg Sven-Hugo Persson
Musical Consultant Göran Martling
Stage Manager Stefano Mariano
Technical Director Tina Aare
Associate Technical Director Henrik Bertilson
Lighting Operator Patrik Angestav
Sound Staff Per Wennling / Björn Lönnroos / Linus Söderlund
Stage Staff Junior Ringqvist / Michael Prickett
Lighting Staff Richard Årlin / Helena Hansen
Props Anders Colliander / Lotta Wallin
Props Associate Anders Tégner
Wardrobe Staff Cecilia Ekström / Johan Eriksson / Anna Hedström   
Prompter Eva Forstenberg
Assistant Director Michael Berg
Costume Assistant Mikael Mohlin
Carpentry Assistant Rainer Lind
Painting Assistant Dick Sandin
Furniture Assistant Susanne Granehag
Producer Seppo Laukannen
Assistant to the Director Sam Caird
Assistant to the Artistic DirectorMargaretha Söderling
Artistic Director (Dramaten) Marie Louise Ekman
Planning Controller Elisabet Holmström
Planning Bo Thulin
MusicLudwig van Beethoven


Prospero Örjan Ramberg
Ariel Stina Ekblad
Spirits Karin Forslind / Johanna Lind / Anders Nordström / Rafael Sady
Miranda Sofia Pakkari
Caliban Jonas Karlsson
Stefano Hans Klinga
Trinculo Per Mattsson
Alonso Claes Månsson
Ferdinand Christoffer Svensson
Gonzalo Carl-Magnus Dellow
Antonio Jonas Bergström
Sebastian Magnus Ehrner
Adrian / Iris Davood Tafvizian
Francisco / Ceres Daniel Nyström
Boatswain Douglas Johansson
Captain Bengt Persson

The Isle is Full of Noises

Prospero, Beethoven and the music of The Tempest

The Tempest is the last play Shakespeare wrote as a solo writer – and it is also by far the most musical. Many of Shakespeare’s plays are intensely musical, three of the comedies I have previously directed in Sweden amongst them: Midsummer Nights’ Dream, As You Like It and Twelfth Night.Many of his plays have songs in them – indeed there are few that don’t. And many of the comedies have dances – especially in their final scenes when all the romantic confusions have been sorted out and the couples are happy to cavort in an expectation of married bliss.

Some of the plays have ‘masques’ at their conclusions – a mythological celebration mingling amateurs or members of the audience with the professional actors from the play. There is the masque of Hymen at the end of As You Like It for instance, or the descent of Jupiter in Cymbeline or the strange Fairy Masque at the end of Merry Wives of Windsor.

But The Tempest has it all – beautiful lyrics for Ariel that can be spoken or sung, dances for the ‘shapes’ that attend Ariel, songs and dances for the clowns and Caliban, a Masque involving Roman goddesses with amateur ‘nymphs’ and ‘reapers’, ‘strange music’ ‘sweet music’ ‘soft music’, ‘solemn music’ and ‘heavenly music’ are all called for at different times by Ariel or by Prospero for scenes of mystification, enchantment, terror, forgiveness and resolution.

If the island that Shakespeare has imagined as a metaphorical location of the creative spirit in mankind is a lonely and inhospitable place, its solitude is mitigated by the comfort of music.Caliban, the roughest character in the play, describes it the most beautifully:

The isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometimes voices,
That if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again.

Stephano’s response to this wonderful speech marks his character out as the greatest Philistine in the play:

This will prove a brave kingdom for me, where
I shall have my music for nothing

Ferdinand, too, when he first hears music on the island is enchanted with it:

Where should this music be? I’ th’ air, or th’ earth?
It sounds no more, and sure it waits upon
Some god o’ th’ island. Sitting on a bank
Weeping again the Kong my father’s wreck,
This music crept by me on the waters
Allaying both their fury and my passion
With its sweet air.

The Tempest is about many things – creativity, parenthood, ambition, the workings of grief, the consolation of friendship and the battle between revenge and forgiveness in the heart of a man whom life has wronged. In Shakespeare’s universe, all these themes, indeed all thoughts and feelings, have their several kinds of music. As he was writing the play, Shakespeare must have accompanied his own thoughts and feelings with the sweet and solemn music of his endlessly fertile imagination. In producing his work, how can we ever seek to equal this authority with real tones of our own?What are these ‘noises’ that fill his ‘isle’? Who can we ask to supply them for us?

If Prospero’s island is a metaphor for the world of the creative artist and Prospero, the lonely, tormented magician, a self-portrait by his creator, it is easy to see why so many other creative artists have identified both with the story and with it’s protagonist character. Over 50 operas have been written with The Tempest as a source story, and the composers, poets and artists that have created incidental music, imaginative reconstructions, lyrical settings, or pictures based on the play include Purcell, Shelley, Browning, Tchaikowksy, Vaughan Williams, Sibelius, Auden, Millais, Dulac, Adès and countless others.

Perhaps the greatest off all artists to be inspired by the play was Beethoven. According to his biographer, Anton Schindler, when asked where he found his inspiration for writing his D minor Piano Sonata, Opus 31 No 2, Beethoven replied: ‘Read Shakespeare’s Tempest’. Whatever the veracity of this anecdote, the sonata has been known as ‘The Tempest Sonata’ ever since the suggestion was made. If you listen to the music, it is easy to see why. The first movement is almost self-consciously dramatic, with periods of recitative, like an unsung opera, and constantly changing themes and tempi. The slow movement is by turns intensely reflective and quietly sinister and the last movement is a constantly revolving and repetitive rondo, redolent of Ariel’s endlessly creative spirit.

If the greatest creative artists are also the most lonely, or the most tormented by their own devils, Beethoven must rank as one of the most lonely of all. Throughout a turbulent and revolutionary creative life, he seems never to have sustained a deep friendship or a lasting love, incapable perhaps of fulfilling himself through any other relationship but with his artistic gift. Was Shakespeare the same? We know so much less of his life than we do of Beethoven’s – but it is easy to imagine how utterly absorbed in his work he must have been. It is similarly easy to imagine Beethoven as a worthy inheritor of Prospero’s lonely exile on the island.

In choosing from the great wealth of Beethoven’s music for appropriate and consistent accompaniments for this production, I have cast my net quite widely but have concentrated heavily on the very late works, for it is in these great utterances, written in the last few years of his life, that Beethoven’s mature spirit seems most in harmony with the profound universe of Shakespeare’s final play.

I have used the Missa Solemnis for the storm, for Ariel’s revengeful Harpy and as a leitmotif for the saintly Gonzalo. I have quoted from the slow movement of the Tempest Sonata for the Machiavellian plots of Antonio and Sebastian and the grief of Alonso at the loss of his son. Two movements from the Pastoral Symphony serve well for the Masque and for Ariel’s dogs and the last movement of the Fifth Symphony is a great way of warming up the theatre after the intermission. The sublime slow movement from the fifth Piano Concerto provides a delicate way of allowing us to say farewell to Ariel at the end of the play.

But most of the music in the production is drawn from the late string quartets. In the last two years of his life, Beethoven concentrated almost exclusively on the medium of the string quartet for the communication of his most deeply felt thoughts and feelings. These five great works serve like the most profound of diaries and give us a deep understanding of how his mind was working after a lifetime of creative work. I quote from them all but most lengthily from the Cavatina from Opus 130 which serves to call Ferdinand and Miranda together after the shipwreck on the island, and from the Molto Adagio movement of Opus 132 for Prospero’s reconciliation with his enemies. This movement is subtitled: Heiliger Dankgesang eines Genesenen an die Gottheit, in der lydischen Tonart (A Convalescent's Holy Song of Thanksgiving to the Divinity, in the Lydian Mode). It was written while Beethoven was convalescing from the serious illness that was to kill him less than a year later. The feeling in this music accords perfectly with Prospero’s description of it as ‘a solemn air and the best comforter to an unsettled fancy.’ It also serves as a heart-breaking prelude to the inevitable loss of his powers that he foretells in the speech immediately before he conjures up the music out of the air:

When I have required
Some heavenly music (which even now I do)
To work mine end upon their senses that
This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I’ll drown my book.

John Caird

September 2010