"The Witches' Carnival." Music by Sir Henry Bishop. Piano performance by Yuko Shiina.

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One of the most successful composers of the London theaters, Sir Henry Bishop’s credits of more than forty opera and melodrama include Clari, or the Maid of Milan (1823, libretto by John Howard Payne) with the hit song, “Home Sweet Home.” His score for The Miller and His Men (1813) included a drinking song, “Fill Boys & Drink About,” that prompted the entire audience to sing along. His musical scores were praised for effectively rendering the dramatic themes and for creating memorable tunes. As performed in Covent Garden in 1834, Bishop’s score for Manfred exhibits the lively rhythms and commanding resonance that anticipated the music hall melodrama of the mid-century. Yuko Shiina’s performance accentuates the staccato pecking rhythm of the ravens at the raven-stone. When the lyrics announce the arrival of the witches, the piano alters rhythm to accompany the witches as they “dance their round/ Merrily—merrily—cheerily—cheerily.”

Date published: 

June 2019

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