Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at COT

Scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Photo: Chicago Opera Theater)
COT team embraces Britten’s ambivalent ‘Dream’
BY WYNNE DELACOMA [Chicago Sun-Times, 15 May 05]
At first glance, Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a frothy tale, a story of youthful romance going charmingly awry.
True, Tatania, the fairy queen, feuds fiercely with her husband, Fairy King Oberon, over custody of a boy prince the Queen of India has given her. But the course of true love ne’er did run smooth, and Shakespeare’s beleaguered lovers triumph in the end.
For most of us, Mendelssohn’s airy music for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” composed for an 1843 production of the play in Berlin and now a concert hall staple, sums up the play’s atmosphere. Its sprightly Wedding March has sped countless brides and grooms out the church doors into their newly married lives.
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Britten’s ‘Midsummer’ a dream
Chicago Opera Theater’s cast and edgy staging do Shakespeare proud
By John von Rhein [Chicago Tribune, 19 May 05]
Tribune music critic
The operas of Benjamin Britten have been a veritable talisman for Chicago Opera Theater since the company’s early years. The city’s second opera company is ending a winning season with a stage awash in the wit and wonderment of Britten’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The only puzzling thing about director Andrei Serban’s exhilarating new production, which opened Wednesday in the Harris Theater, is why one of the composer’s most important stage works had to wait 45 years to receive a professional staging in Chicago. Britten and his partner, Peter Pears, cut Shakespeare’s dark fairyland comedy by about half, clarifying the plot complexities while retaining the Bard’s evocative poetry. In so doing they created a world–or, rather, three distinct worlds, those of the fairies, mortals and rustics–that can hold its own with the original.
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