February 7, 2009

A Midsummer Night's Dream - A Dreamy Night at the Opera

In an enchanted forest outside of Athens there are magical fairies, a love spell, a case of mistaken identity, a group of silly actors and a play about a play. Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, based on Shakespeare’s play, was truly a dreamy and magical treat. I am so glad I chose it for my first opera experience.

When the lights went down and the red curtain went up, an abstract forest - upside-down black trees on a blue green painted background - came to life with playful white fairies. The clouds (a clear blue tarp that hung from the ceiling) breathed up and down with the rhythmic sounds of the brilliant Houston Grand Opera Orchestra.

Puck, (Jon Michael Hill) a mischievous and invisible sprite, was the only one who spoke, instead of sang, his lines. I really enjoyed his high-spirited and fun performance.

By far, my favorite character was the fairy queen Tytania (Soprano Laura Claycomb). Her costume was a beautiful, dazzling gown with a long, four-sectioned sheer train, which was carried by the little fairies. Her voice, oh my goodness, was mesmerizing. Even though she sang all her lines, I left wishing I could have heard more.

The audience was conducted like an orchestra. It was silent at times, as if not to wake the sleeping characters, and then later roaring in laughter at the hilarious antics of the actors playing actors and asses.

Surtitles were provided, although the opera was in English, which I was grateful for. After all, it was still Shakespeare. I would recommend seeing this opera, especially if you are a Shakespeare or fairy tale fan.

Until next time – Adieu!


Kiley said...

Sounds divine! I saw a rather abstract version of this play once for a Shakespeare class I took, where right before they left for the woods they donned trench coats and hats and sang "Teddy Bear's Picnic"...it was...interesting. Your opera version sounds a bit more mature.

Dorlana said...

That's funny!
Speaking of strange clothes, to me the costumes on the people from Athens (at the opera) looked like they were from the 50s or 60s. I guess I was expecting them to look like they were from Shakespeare's era. IDK - but I guess since Britten wrote this in the sixties it was from his time.