Embarking on a captivating sonic journey, renowned Canadian trumpeter Mike Herriott delves into the intricacies of Shakespeare’s mesmerizing character, Mercutio, through his latest composition aptly titled “Mercutio,” found on his most recent album, Tales of Tricksters and Vagabonds. Check it out on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/album/1RQz8Wl45acR5hg1XcRVtx?si=T5516Ar7RlGCGEtwxlqk1A&nd=1&dlsi=f6e11cf25e394001
Drawing inspiration from the bard’s insight into Mercutio’s vibrant yet tragic existence in “Romeo & Juliet,” Herriott crafts a musical narrative that mirrors the multifaceted nature of this beloved character.
It has been said that Shakespeare found his character of Mercutio in Romeo & Juliet to be so interesting that he had to kill him off, so attention wasn’t taken away from the story. Mercutio is Romeo’s close friend and becomes known for his humour and fun-loving demeanour.
As someone who, through this friendship with Romeo and his relation to the Capulets, can move easily between the feuding houses, he eventually takes it upon himself to fight Romeo’s fight for him against Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt. In his final moments, he curses both fighting houses for their ongoing pettiness. His last words, before life leaves his body, are a pun: “Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man.”.
This piece explores the playfulness and off-beat character of Mercutio; where humour is the juxtaposition of conflicting realities, this is reflected in the juxtaposition of conflicting rhythms. The drum solo fits in well to give us a version of the famous “Queen Mab” speech. The final statement of the melody gives us the struggle of Mercutio in his swordfight, with Romeo’s tragic intervention. In the end, listen as Mercutio’s essence dissipates into the universe with a short brass choral and piano arpeggio.