Ways Of Seeing

Painting of Olivier as Lear By Chuck Rose at “Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.” (Edgar) At the end of King Lear Edgar asks the audience to “speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.”  This is a call to both speak and to do so honestly.  We […]

Approaching the Play

King Lear gives us a grim story through startling poetry.  But it tells us neither how we must feel about it or how we must think about it.  If anything, its closing moments of quiet hysteria deny just that power to the play itself.  Edgar says, “the weight of these sad times we must obey,” […]

Print Editions

As with most of Shakespeare’s famous plays, King Lear may be found each year in many individual print editions.  At least twenty such editions were in print for King Lear as of Spring of 2009.  Each attempts to realize some distinction relative to the others.  However, it seems useful to separate them into three broad […]

Ian McKellen Film

Ian McKellen has been praised as the Olivier of our age.  But for the many Shakespearean roles he has taken on stage, we only have three previous Shakespearean plays with him in film—Macbeth with Judi Dench (1979), Othello in which he plays Iago (1990), and Richard III (1995).  He will be 70 in May; this […]

Films and Print Editions

The King Lear section of the Great Performances site owes its existence to the PBS broadcast of the film directed by Trevor Nunn and starring Ian McKellen.  For the better part of 2007 the two produced and performed King Lear on stage, first at Stratford-on-Avon as the last in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s staging of […]

Adaptations in Film

The basic story of King Lear goes back to ancient English myths. The general idea of three daughters, two wicked and one good, with arbitrary love tests, goes back at least to a second century AD novel by Apuleius called The Golden Ass. A play was written for the English stage around the mythical King […]

King Lear Films

We are blessed with eleven film versions of King Lear (including the announced release of the McKellen film).  While we might say that some are better than others, each has value and interest.  Indeed, a more useful distinction might be between those taking a conventional approach to the play compared to those veering into experimental […]

GP at the Met: Macbeth

Production Credits

Web Credits Producer: Anu Krishnan Designer: Lenny Drozner Graphic Art: Ying Zhou-Hudson, Emily Nonouchi Technical Director: Brian Lee Production Assistant: Diana Cofresí-Terrero Copy Editor: Leslie Kriesel HTML Implementation: Brian Santalone GREAT PERFORMANCES Web pages copyright © 2007 Educational Broadcasting Corporation. Thirteen Online is a production of Thirteen/WNET New York’s Kravis Multimedia Education Center in New […]

GP at the Met: Macbeth


Ken Howard/The Metropolitan Opera Composer: Giuseppe Verdi Librettists: Francesco Maria Piave and Andrea Maffei Production: Adrian Noble Conductor: James Levine Performers: Željko Lucic (Macbeth), Maria Guleghina (Lady Macbeth), Dimitri Pittas (Macduff), John Relyea (Banquo) Synopsis: Director Adrian Noble calls Macbeth “the greatest story Verdi ever told.” It’s the first of three works by Shakespeare that […]

GP at The Met: Roméo et Juliette


Composer: Charles Gounod Librettists: Jules Barbier and Michel Carré Production: Guy Joosten Conductor: Plácido Domingo Performers: Anna Netrebko (Juliette), Roberto Alagna (Roméo), Marc Heller (Tybalt), Louis Otey (Paris), Charles Taylor (Capulet), Jane Bunnell (Gertrude), David Won (Grégorio), Tony Stevenson (Benvolio), Dean Peterson (Duke of Verona) Synopsis: Soprano Anna Netrebko teams up with tenor Roberto Alagna […]