Claire van Kampen’s glorious new play Farinelli and the King is to get a West End transfer it has been announced today.
The West End production will open at the Duke Of York’s Theatre in September following critical acclaim at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe where its sell-out run ends on Sunday.
Set in eighteenth-century Spain, Claire van Kampen’s moving and mesmerising new play tells the intriguing true story of Farinelli, once the world’s most famous castrato and one of the greatest celebrities of his time, and his decision to trade fame and fortune in the opera-houses of Europe for a life of servitude at the court of King Philippe V.
This sumptuous and enchanting play explores the dynamics between Farinelli and the royal couple, featuring many of the exquisite arias first sung by Farinelli in the 1730s.
The Duke of York’s Theatre will be transformed for this beguiling and transporting production, lit almost exclusively by the glow of candle-light and with live music played on Baroque instruments.
Mark Rylance, now no stranger to the quarter-light of candles following his appearance in TV’s Wolf Hall, will continue to star as King Philippe V of Spain in his wife’s drama.
Depressed and plagued by insomnia, King Philippe V of Spain lies awake in his chamber. The Queen, desperate to find a cure, hears of Farinelli – a castrato with a voice so divine it has the power to captivate all who hear it.
Even Philippe is astonished when Farinelli sings, and begs him to stay. But will Farinelli, one of the greatest celebrities of his time, choose a life of solitude over fame and fortune in the opera-houses of Europe?
Claire van Kampen, founding director of music at The Globe, has created music for over 45 productions there, including The Duchess of Malfi with Gemma Arterton.
Farinelli And The King will play at the Duke Of York’s Theatre from September.