Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

9780198708544 Weiss - Real Traviata

Sex, hygiene, and style in 1840s Paris

The young woman who inspired Dumas’s La Dame aux Camélias and Verdi’s Violetta in La traviata conceived at least once in the course of her 23 years. At the time she was in her late teens. During the five years that followed the birth of her baby, between the ages of 17 and 22, she prospered as the leading courtesan of the most glamorous city in Europe. The word ‘courtesan’ is a euphemism for an upper class prostitute, a paid woman who doubled as a trophy exhibit at the theatre and opera.

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Five astonishing facts about women in Shakespeare

What would Macbeth be without Lady Macbeth? Or Romeo and Juliet with only Romeo? Yet there’s an enormous disparity between female and male representation in Shakespeare’s play. Few, great female characters deliver as many lines or impressive speeches as their male counterparts. While this may not be surprising considering 16th century society, literature, and theater, data can reveal a wider disparity than previously thought.

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Which Shakespearean heroine are you? [quiz]

Did you know that out of a total of 981 characters from Shakespeare’s plays, only around 150 characters are women? There is an ongoing debate concerning what truly qualifies a character as female, but this ratio of male to female characters is nevertheless astounding.

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Shakespeare and film around the world

From the birth of film, Shakespeare’s plays have been a constant source of inspiration for many screenwriters, directors, and producers. As a result, hundreds of film and television adaptations have been made, each featuring either a Shakespearean plot, theme, character, or all three.

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Hard Times Cover

The desnudas of Times Square

Because nothing noteworthy occurred anywhere in the world through the month of August and the first half of September, the local news in New York City turned its attentions to a few women who have apparently been bothering people in the otherwise calm, decent section of Manhattan known as Times Square.

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How well do you know the film adaptations of Shakespeare’s work? [quiz]

It’s fun to read Shakespearean plays, but watching our most beloved scenes on stage or screen makes the characters and the plots even more engaging. Reading the scene in which Juliet wakes up to find her Romeo dead is indeed tragic, but watching Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio lock eyes right before he dies is heart-wrenching. Gazing, unable to reach through the screen and offer help, as Ralph Fiennes is outnumbered and murdered in his directorial debut, Coriolanus, is unparalleled.

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Shakespeare’s work: pure genius or imitatio?

William Shakespeare was undoubtedly a literary mastermind, yet several allusions and quotations in his works suggest that he gathered ideas from other texts. Ovid’s Metamorphoses, for example, was alluded to more than any other classical text, and the Bishop’s and Geneva Bibles were quoted numerous times in his works. Shakespeare’s reliance on source material from external literature was a common practice of the time period.

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How well do you know Shakespeare’s influences? [quiz]

Many Shakespeare fans prefer to imagine him as an untrained genius, but, in reality, Shakespeare drew inspiration from many classical sources for his own writing. His most famous plays, such as Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, and Hamlet, allude to and reference external sources that Shakespeare was already familiar with. How much do you know about the influence of other writers on, what some would call, the greatest English dramatist to date?

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Misty Copeland dances On the Town

Misty Copeland captured the world’s attention this summer when she became the first black female principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre. In late August, Copeland will once again be in the headlines when she stars in Leonard Bernstein’s On the Town for a limited engagement at New York’s Lyric Theatre, where she will bring the show’s nearly year-long run to a close.

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A rare treat in Berlioz’s The Trojans

The San Francisco Opera has undertaken the enormous challenge of mounting Berlioz’s The Trojans. It consists of two complete operas, The Capture of Troy and The Trojans at Carthage. They are being performed together, which is most unusual, but is how Berlioz envisioned it. The forces involved are enormous. In this production there are 72 instrumentalists in the pit and 23 backstage including 4 trumpets.

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Salsa or tango: which Latin dance is right for you?

Partnered social dancing has enjoyed a steady rise in popularity over the past decade as more and more people recognize its social, physical, and emotional benefits. Because “touch” dancing never fell out of fashion in Latin America, Latin dances have evolved to respond to the sensibilities of their contemporary practitioners without loosing their deep connection to a historical legacy. Two of the most popular Latin dances worldwide are salsa, with roots in the Spanish Caribbean, and the Argentine tango.

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We'll Have Manhattan Dominic Symonds Cover

A West Ender’s stop on Broadway

We’ve got one day here and not another minute…”. Well, not one day exactly, but just five—a short week’s stay in NYC from England, and four nights to catch a few shows. So how to choose? The first choices were easy: two new productions of classic musical comedies, and as it happens, shows by the same team of writers. Betty Comden and Adolph Green were veterans of Broadway by the time they came to write On the Twentieth Century (1978), though merely young starlets when they first scored a hit with On the Town (1944).

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Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Pipe Dream

The seventh of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s stage works, Pipe Dream came along at a particularly vulnerable time in their partnership. After the revolutionary Oklahoma! (1943) and Carousel (1945)—with, above all, two of the most remarkable scores ever heard to that point—they disappointed many with Allegro (1947).

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It’s time to play the (Broadway) music

Whether you think the Tony Awards is the epitome of Broadway talent or just another marketing device, it’s a night where everyone has a front row seat to the creative, the lively, the emotional moments that have made a home on the Great White Way.

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How well do you know Shakespeare actors?

‘All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.’ Over the past 400 years, Shakespeare’s plays have been performed across the globe, in productions big and small. Many actors have tried their hand at bringing characters such as Hamlet, Othello, Puck, and Juliet to life. How well do you know some of the great Shakespeare actors and the plays they performed in? Test your knowledge with our quiz below.

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The School for Scandal on the Georgian stage

Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s comic masterpiece ‘The School for Scandal’ premiered at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in May 1777. The play was an immediate success earning Drury Lane, which Sheridan owned and managed an enormous amount of money. ‘The School for Scandal’ explores a fashionable society at once addicted to gossip and yet fearful of exposure. Jokes are had at the expense of aging husbands, the socially inexpert, and, most of all, the falsely sentimental.

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