USV – Messages Sages and Ages

RELIGION AND CULTURAL IDENTITY IN SHAKESPEARE’S ROMEO AND JULIET AND THE MUSICAL WORKS IT INSPIRED

Protean Shakespeare thrives not only in the theatre, but also through what Bolter and Grusin call remediation. This article analyses the religious stances in the play and then shows how opera, symphony and musical have been adapting the veteran Elizabethan drama since the 18th century. Its main approach is comparative and relies on the history of mentalities. Adaptation is dictated by cultural context, the conventions of the lyrical theatre, social and political factors, and reception. The confusing religious configuration of Shakespeare’s England is reinterpreted kaleidoscopically. The article demonstrates, for instance, that Berlioz and Gounod reread it according to staunch Catholicism in 19th century France, while Bernstein’s West Side Story moves the action to New York in the mid-50’s, the Capulets and Montagues are replaced with rival Polish and Puerto Rican gangs and religion with cultural identity.

Alina Bottez

Author

Dr Alina Bottez is currently a Senior Lecturer with the English Department of the Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures of the University of Bucharest, specialising in Elizabethan and Victorian literature. She taught Singing at the National University of Music in Bucharest (2010-2015) and is also following a performing career in Romania and abroad, interpreting leading soprano roles. She was granted the Summa cum laude distinction for an interdisciplinary doctorate on Shakespeare’s adaptations into opera in 2013 (cotutelle between the two universities) and for two years she had a programme on opera, its literary sources and cultural context on Radio România Muzical.

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