Stories » Rufus Wainwright's motivations for taking on Shakespeare are entirely honourable / theguardian

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Rufus Wainwright's motivations for taking on Shakespeare are entirely honourable / theguardian

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Were most pop artists to record an album of Shakespearean sonnets to mark the 400th anniversary of the playwright's death, it would be impossible not to suspect rank opportunism. It's to Rufus Wainwright's credit, then, that his own motivations for taking on such a potentially credibility-shredding project appear to be entirely honourable. Wainwright has a history of audacious ventures – his last recorded work was a crowdfunded, self-penned opera, 2015's Prima Donna – and also previous form with the Bard. He first scored one of Shakespeare's sonnets, for Michael Kamen, more than a decade ago, while three further orchestrations popped up on his 2010 album All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu.

The Canadian singer-songwriter's new offering, Take All My Loves: 9 Shakespeare Sonnets, is a fittingly extravagant document that makes use of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, guest vocalists, and thespians ranging from Siân Phillips to Carrie Fisher, Helena Bonham Carter and William Shatner. However, Wainwright pithily explains why he is unable to showcase the entire album tonight: "I can only play five of them."

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