Thursday, March 15, 2018
A Midsummer Night's Dream @E_N_O #ENODream
Based on Shakespeare’s popular comedy, Britten’s opera follows the consequences of a falling-out between the green-haired fairy-king Oberon and his blue-haired fairy-queen, Tytania. It leads to mistaken identities, confused lovers and a donkey having sex with a fairy.
Actually there is a quite a lot of sex in the show. As there should be. Shakespeare's play is essentially a sex-comedy.
Robert Carsen’s production explores the blurred relationships between reality and dreams, the natural and supernatural, and - yes - said sexual desire.
From the sliding string chords of the magic wood to the rustics’ well-intentioned entertainment at the end, Britten’s ear for beguiling orchestration and melodic invention enchant and entice.
Leading the cast as Oberon and Tytania are counter-tenor Christopher Ainslie and soprano Soraya Mafi. The roles of the lovers are taken by a quartet of rising stars – Eleanor Dennis as Helena, Clare Presland as Hermia, David Webb as Lysander, and Matthew Durkan as Demetrius. Young British conductor Alexander Soddy makes his ENO debut.
We loved the show - it was beautiful to watch, with its lush green and white set - very funny, Bottom and Puck both playing it for laughs - and the time just flew by, although the joke about "filling the 3 hours between supper and bedtime" wasn't lost on the crowd.
Maybe it's not up there with the sublime Peter Grimes but it is a great introduction to Britten and to the world of opera in general if you fancied taking the plunge.