Mark Rylance will star as Philippe V, King of Spain, in Claire van Kampen's new play with music, Farinelli and the King, premiering in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in February 2015. The role of the castrato Farinelli will be sung by celebrated countertenors Iestyn Davies and William Purefoy.
Set in 18th century Spain and Italy, the play tells the true story of Farinelli, once the world's most famous castrato, and his decision to trade fame and fortune for a life of servitude at the court of King Philippe V. Claire van Kampen's new play explores the intriguing dynamics between Farinelli and the royal couple and is replete with some of the greatest arias of the period.
Farinelli and the King is the latest in a series of genre-bending plays with music at Shakespeare's Globe. Last year, Samuel Adamson's Gabriel, a celebration of the music of Purcell and the teeming life of London in the 1690s in collaboration with the English Concert and Alison Balsom, garnered critical acclaim and a run of sell-out performances. This year, the candlelit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse hosted Jessica Swale's Thomas Tallis, a specially commissioned piece following the life and work of the celebrated composer through four Tudor monarchies featuring The Sixteen, one of the world's greatest choral ensembles.
Rylance last appeared at the Globe in 2012 in Tim Carroll's sell-out productions of Twelfth Night and Richard III, which subsequently enjoyed a phenomenally successful West End and Broadway run. His other recent theater credits include Johnny "Rooster" Byron in Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem (Royal Court, West End, Broadway), and he is soon to star as Thomas Cromwell in the BBC2 adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Booker Prize–winning novel Wolf Hall.
Iestyn Davies' recent awards include the 2013 Critics' Circle Award for Exceptional Young Talent and the 2014 Gramophone Recital Award for his recent disc Arise, My Muse. Davies has sung roles for New York's Metropolitan Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Paris' Opera Comique, English National Opera, Milan's Teatro alla Scala, and at the Munich and Vienna Festivals. He has also performed in concerts and recitals at the Barbican, the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York, the Royal Albert Hall at the BBC Proms and London's Wigmore Hall.
William Purefoy has performed with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Hanover Band, the English Concert, and The Sixteen. His concert, recital, and operatic appearances include Carnegie Hall, the Staatsoper Hanover, Wigmore Hall, and the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms. He was a finalist in the Kathleen Ferrier Awards and a winner of the NFMS Young Concert Artists Award. He was also featured in the television series In Search of Shakespeare and the film The Young Victoria.
Davies will be singing the role of Farinelli for the performances of Feb. 11 and 12, Feb. 18–28, and March 2. Purefoy will be singing the role of Farinelli for the performances on Feb. 14 and March 4–8.
Farinelli and the King will be just one of the highlights of a glittering musical season in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse between October 2014 and April 2015. World-famous tenor Ian Bostridge will join Chinese classical guitarist Xuefei Yang for a program of English and Chinese classical and folk music; celebrated sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar will explore the work of Rabindranath Tagore over a series of concerts; and actress Charlotte Rampling and cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton will present a unique evening comprising the haunting poetry of Sylvia Plath and Benjamin Britten's suites for the solo cello.
September 9, 2014