Variations on Much Ado About Nothing: Beatrice and Benedick in Target-Language Adaptations

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Drama texts are characterized by the transient nature of their stage reception and their malleability. This implies a close relationship with the context of performance while it also explains why they are frequently subject to varying degrees of adaptation. This article will study variations on Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing, first revising different approaches to its performance in the original language, and then analysing two adaptations which involve translation: a Spanish play, Jacinto Benavente’s Los favoritos, and a French opera, Hector Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict, both inspired by the two most attractive and witty characters in the bard’s text, Beatrice and Benedick, who have been the object of a number of versions and adaptations and therefore encourage exploration in different contexts. Slightly different ways of dealing with the main elements in the play will be observed in these two target texts, for instance regarding the general tone, or issues such as the concepts of marriage and love; ultimately, these aspects also highlight the suppleness of drama texts, particularly of classic works, which tend to move easily between languages and cultures, historic periods or artistic genres.

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