Shakespeare Re-Read, Re-Written, Re-Contextualised Or... Re-Placed in Opera and Musical

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Abstract

Shakespeare thrives not only in the theatre, but also through what Bolter and Grusin call remediation. This article analyses how opera and musical reread Elizabethan drama shifting from spoken to sung discourse and travelling transnationally, temporally and across genres. Its main approach is comparative and relies on the history of mentalities. Rereading is dictated by cultural context, the conventions of the lyrical theatre, social and political factors and reception. Gender is reread in Bellini‘s I Capuleti e i Montecchi and in Britten‘s A Midsummer Night‟s Dream, and religion - in Gounod‘s Roméo et Juliette and Bernstein‘s West Side Story. Cultural and historical barriers enjoin recontextualisation: the English, French and Welsh verbal fun in The Merry Wives is metamorphosed into Germ-Italian in Salieri‘s Vienna, while prayer is bowdlerised in Bentoiu‘s Hamlet written in communist Romania. Porter‘s Kiss Me, Kate rewrites The Taming of the Shrew in a post-modern musical avant la lettre featuring the cast of a theatre company on- and off-stage. However, operas such as Rossini‘s Otello or Thomas‘s Hamlet are shown to have almost replaced Shakespeare‘s initial message. The article emphasises the idea that operations of rereading and rewriting, in a musical context, significantly enrich the ample panoply of Shakespearean adaptations.

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Linguaculture

The Journal of Linguaculture Centre for (Inter)cultural and (Inter)lingual Research, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi

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