Mark Rylance is to star as Philippe V, King of Spain in Claire van Kampen’s new play with music, Farinelli and the King, premiering in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, in the grounds of Shakespeare’s Globe, in February.
The role of the castrato Farinelli will be sung by celebrated countertenors Iestyn Davies and William Purefoy.
Set in 18th-century Spain and Italy, the play tells the true story of Farinelli, once the world’s most famous castrato, and his decision to trade fame and fortune for a life of servitude at the court of King Philippe V.
Claire van Kampen’s sumptuous new play explores the intriguing dynamics between Farinelli and the royal couple and is replete with some of the greatest arias of the period.
Farinelli and the King is the latest in a series of genre-bending plays with music at the Globe.
Last year Samuel Adamson’s Gabriel, a celebration of the music of Purcell, garnered huge critical acclaim and a run of sell-out performances.
This year the candlelit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse hosted Jessica Swale’s Thomas Tallis, a specially commissioned piece following the life and work of the celebrated composer through four Tudor monarchies featuring The Sixteen, one of the world’s greatest choral ensembles.
Mark Rylance last appeared at the Globe in 2012 in Tim Carroll’s hugely lauded sell-out productions of Twelfth Night and Richard III.
He subsequently enjoyed a phenomenally successful West End and Broadway run.
His other recent theatre credits include Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron in Jez Butterworth’s sensational Jerusalem and he is shortly to star as Thomas Cromwell in the BBC2 adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning novel Wolf Hall.
Praised as “one of the most glorious countertenor voices in the world today” Iestyn Davies’ recent awards include the 2013 Critics’ Circle Award for Exceptional Young Talent and the 2014 Gramophone Recital Award for his recent disc Arise, my muse.
A versatile performer equally at home on both the opera and concert stage, Iestyn has sung roles for New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Paris’ Opera Comique, English National Opera, Milan’s Teatro alla Scala and at the Munich and Vienna Festivals.
William Purefoy has performed with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Hanover Band, the English Concert and The Sixteen.
Farinelli and the King is one of the highlights of a glittering musical season in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse between October and April.
World-famous tenor Ian Bostridge will join Chinese classical guitarist Xuefei Yang for an eclectic programme of English and Chinese classical and folk music.
Celebrated sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar will explore the work of Rabindranath Tagore over a series of concerts.
While actress Charlotte Rampling and cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton will present a unique evening comprising the haunting poetry of Sylvia Plath and Benjamin Britten’s suites for the solo cello.