Tuesday 31 December 2013

One Crazy Day

Richard Morris, Hetty Morris and Sayaka Takeuchi - One Crazy Day
Poet Richard Morris and his daughter, the artist and designer Hatty Morris, joined forces to produce an illustrated poetic re-telling of the story of Wagner's Ring Cycle (see my review). Now they have followed this up with another, this time produced One Crazy Day: the story of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. Richard Morris's verses telling the story of Mozart's opera are complemented with illustrations by Hatty Morris and Sayaka Takeuchi.

Richard Morris in his introduction sketches in the historical background to the opera. But as the opera is based on a Beaumarchais play, he also adds the very necessary pre-history from Beaumarchais' earlier play The Barber of Seville. He has written the poetry in terza rima which uses three-line stanza's with complex chains of rhymes. This gives the verse an onward, flowing quality as the middle line of stanza rhymes with the outer two lines of the next stanza. It also successfully avoids a rum-ti-tum quality in the poetry which would not sit well with the plot.

Illustration for Act one from Richard Morris, Hetty Morris and Sayaka Takeuchi - One Crazy Day
Whilst the plot of The Marriage of Figaro is not quite as complex as that of the Ring, it is certainly more complex than is often realised with a number of sub-plots which can be skimmed over the first time that someone sees the opera. Mozart's music miraculously illuminates the drama of Beaumarchais' plot and brings to life his characters, so it is helpful to have the details set out. But Richard and Hatty Morris's book is more than just useful, it is lively and fun; a lovely read.

While Figaro is measuring the room,
Susanna's trying on her wedding hat
and needs the full attention of her groom.

But when he tells her, at her bidding, that
the room's for them, she reads beneath the text
and knows at once their ship is heading at

the rocks, for their married quarters will be next
to the bedroom of their lord, Count Almaviva;
they've known for long the Count is over-sexed,

now her man must wake up and believe her:
she his future wife's become the target
for seduction by this carnal high achiever.

Richard Morris's verses are aptly illustrated with Hatty Morris and Sayaka Takeuchi's black and which illustrations, with their extensive use of pattern and a delightful cast of characters.

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