Anglo-Italian relations

A night of accidentally bilingual opera at ENO.

To the ENO on Friday, to see Jonathan Miller's production of Donizetti's The Elixir of Love. Working with a translation of the libretto by Kelly Rourke, Miller has transplanted the action from 19th-century Italy to 1950s rural America, setting it in and around a diner, with Nemorino, the lovelorn peasant, reimagined as a melancholic farmhand in cowboy boots.

And in Miller's hands, Adina, the object of Nemorino's ardour, becomes a blousy cross between Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, while Dulcamara, the itinerant medicine man, is played as a sweaty huckster in an Oldsmobile.

Miller's updating of Donizetti's opera is fertile enough, but on Friday it was given an extra turn by the absence through illness of both the tenor John Tessier (Nemorino) and his understudy.

This meant that the Lithuanian tenor Edgaras Montvidas had to be drafted in at extremely short notice. And since he hadn't had time to learn Rourke's new translation, Montvidas sang the part in Italian -- a delicious linguistic collision exploited to considerable comic effect by the wonderful Andrew Shore as Dulcamara, who, alone among the cast, shuttled back and forth between English and Italian with astonishing dexterity.

Sheer bravado and virtuosity for its own sake, of course, but an unalloyed triumph over adversity nonetheless.

Jonathan Derbyshire is Managing Editor of Prospect. He was formerly Culture Editor of the New Statesman.

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SRSLY #99: GLOW / FANtasies / Search Party

On the pop culture podcast this week: the Netflix wrestling comedy GLOW, a new fanfiction-based web series called FANtasies and the millennial crime drama Search Party.

This is SRSLY, the pop culture podcast from the New Statesman. Here, you can find links to all the things we talk about in the show as well as a bit more detail about who we are and where else you can find us online.

Listen using the player below. . .

. . .or subscribe in iTunes. We’re also on StitcherRSS and SoundCloud – but if you use a podcast app that we’re not appearing in, let us know.

SRSLY is hosted by Caroline Crampton and Anna Leszkiewicz, the NS’s assistant editor and editorial assistant. We’re on Twitter as @c_crampton and @annaleszkie, where between us we post a heady mixture of Serious Journalism, excellent gifs and regularly ask questions J K Rowling needs to answer.

The Links


The show on Netflix.

Two interesting reviews: New York Times and Little White Lies.

Screen Rant on the real life wrestling connections.


The show on Fullscreen.

Amanda Hess’s NYT column about it.

Search Party

The show on All4.

For next time:

We are watching Happy Valley.

If you’d like to talk to us about the podcast or make a suggestion for something we should read or cover, you can email srslypod[at]

You can also find us on Twitter @srslypod, or send us your thoughts on tumblr here. If you like the podcast, we’d love you to leave a review on iTunes - this helps other people come across it.

We love reading out your emails. If you have thoughts you want to share on anything we’ve discussed, or questions you want to ask us, please email us on srslypod[at], or @ us on Twitter @srslypod, or get in touch via tumblr here. We also have Facebook now.

Our theme music is “Guatemala - Panama March” (by Heftone Banjo Orchestra), licensed under Creative Commons. 

See you next week!

PS If you missed #98, check it out here.

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