Episode 004: The Two Gentlemen of Verona – A History

The perennial Al Hirschfeld’s depiction of the original cast of the 1971 rock musical “Two Gentlemen of Verona”

“Love me / Not your idea of me! / Release me / From your fantasy.”

– Silvia in the 1971 rock musical Two Gentlemen of Verona


Episode 4 is now live! We explore the critical and popular history of The Two Gentlemen of Verona from the Elizabethan age to the 1970s counter-culture, by way of light opera, Machiavelli, and the British Invasion.

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, or by email at podcastshakespeare@gmail.com. You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, or download direct from Libsyn. We also have a brand spanking new Spotify playlist, which will be updated each week as we work through the plays. On the website, you can find our evolving bibliography.


00:00 The play in Shakespeare’s time

18:40 A critical history

40:05 Some literary moments

44:03 A stage history

1:07:23 Staging the final scene

1:13:48 Two Gentlemen: The Musical

1:22:36 A screen history

1:28:04 Music and art

Links mentioned:

Diana, pastoral romance by Jorge de Montemayor

Ovid, Metamorphoses

David Bergeron, “Wherefore Verona in ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’?”, Comparative Drama vol. 41 (JSTOR access required)

Two Gentlemen in the film Shakespeare in Love

Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow) and the Nurse (Imelda Staunton) discussing the play in Shakespeare in Love

Elizabeth Rivlin, “Mimetic Service in The Two Gentlemen of Verona“, ELH vol. 72 (Project Muse access required)

W.E. Stephenson, “The Adolescent Dream-World of the Two Gentlemen of Verona”, Shakespeare Quarterly vol. 17 (JSTOR access required)

Joan Crawford and Ann Blyth in Mildred Pierce, 1945

Kate Winslet and Evan Rachel Wood in Mildred Pierce, 2011

Charles and Mary Lamb, Tales from Shakespeare, 1807

Machiavelli on wolves and lions

Henry Rowley Bishop’s gorgeous music for Frederick Reynolds’ 1821 operatic version

Stanley Wells’ ‘Shakespeare For All Time’, since I’m going to quote this super legend so often

Peter Hall’s 1960 RSC production

Robin Phillips’ 1970 RSC production

David Thacker’s 1991 RSC production

Joe Dowling’s 2009 Guthrie Theatre production

Simon Godwin’s 2014 RSC production on DVD

A fantastic website on the 1971 rock musical

China’s A Spray of Plum Blossoms, 1931

The BBC production at the fantastic BBC Shakespeare blog

Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?

Barbra Streisand – An Silvia

A history of Sir Eglamour

William Holman Hunt’s Valentine Rescuing Silvia

Miscellaneous artworks at Wikimedia


The Honeycombs, Who is Sylvia, 1966

Fionnuala Ward, Who is Sylvia (from 5 Shakespeare Songs), Les Sirènes Female Chamber Choir 

Mark Stone / Stephen Barlowe, performing Roger Quilter’s Who is Silvia

Nino Rota’s “Love theme from Romeo and Juliet”

C4: The Choral Composer/Conductor Collective performing Jaakko Mäntyjärvi’s Who is Sylvia from More Shakespeare Songs (1997)

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf performing Schubert’s An Silvia

The 1971 rock musical with Raúl Julia (Proteus), Jonelle Allen (Sylvia), Clifton Davis (Valentine), Diana Davila (Julia), Sheila Gibbs, Signa Joy, Kenneth Lowry, Sakinah Mahammud (Quartet)

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