Stephen Fry has the most delightful, mellifluous voice for reading, reciting and acting that I’ve ever heard. And he somehow manages to incorporate irony, wit, charm, kindness, and a hint of darkness in his fabulously intelligent delivery of Sonnet 130. I suppose if he were to simply read the telephone book from East nowhere out loud I’d also be quite delighted.
You may listen to him – and watch him -- recite the sonnet that begins “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” at the following link, which is very, very slow to load -- have patience: let it load and then come back to it, to hear the complete poem without annoying pauses, to hear the words flow from irony to respectful love (which by the way, does not matter if it is directed toward a man or a woman):
Some of the same understanding and sensitivity heard in the poem is evident in Stephen Fry’s superb performance of Malvolio in the Globe production of Twelfe Night (an original spelling) that was brought over from London to New York City in repertory with Richard III. I was able to attend both plays in October, 2013. The entire cast was outstanding for both plays, including the extraordinary Mark Rylance who played Olivia with hilarious comic timing and exquisite tenderness, and then the next night showed the audience an original and oddly funny King Richard who was therefore peculiarly scary and pathetic.
Perhaps Stephen Fry’s compassionate portrayal of Malvolio in Twelfe Night and his exquisite performance of sonnet 130 are each due to unusual comprehension and careful reading.
This rendition in the Open Culture link above is from an ambitious iPad app called “Shakespeare’s Sonnets” which features many different readers. However, I wouldn’t have minded if all 154 sonnets were read by the inimitable Stephen Fry.