April 26, 2012

The Love Affair between Italy and Shakespeare

Speaking of Italy, “Anyone who claims Shakespeare’s poetry is lost in translation might have to think again.” At least, this is what the Guardian says in this article by Sonia Massai, Reader in Shakespeare & Early Modern Studies at King’s College, London—but frankly I think there’s no doubt about that. At the same time, there should be few doubts about the (reciprocal) love affair between Italy and Shakespeare:

Crucial to establishing Shakespeare's reputation in Italy has been the long relationship between Italy and England – and between Italy and London in particular. Eminent Italians reached London as political and religious émigrés during Shakespeare's lifetime, and although Italy was not yet in love with Shakespeare, Shakespeare may have fallen in love with Italy – quite literally, if, as the writer and critic Jonathan Bate has argued, the "dark lady" addressed in some of the sonnets was modelled on the wife of linguist John Florio, who taught Elizabeth's court how to speak Italian.

Definitely a must read for anyone who loves Shakespeare as well as those who love Italy, or both things at the same time, whether you are Italian or English, or from anywhere else.

And the love affair between Italy and Shakespeare continues. Worth mentioning are two current offerings of Shakespeare "made in Italy". The Taviani brothers' Caesar Must Die, about to open in the UK, was awarded the Golden Bear at the Berlin film festival this year, while Rome's Villa Borghese hosts plays performed in Italian at an imposing replica of Shakespeare's Globe.
What better tribute to Sam Wanamaker's modern reconstruction, and the young Italian company performing Julius Caesar as part of the Globe to Globe season, than a few lines from Agostino Lombardo's splendid translation for Giorgio Strehler's famous 80s production of The Tempest?