Saturday, January 03, 2009

A Midsummer Night's Dream in modern setting

Benjamin Britten fascinates me since my reading of "The Rest is Noise". Couple of weeks ago I listened/watched to Peter Grimes (still deserves a review), and today to his amazing opera of hundreds years old Shakespearean Midsummer Night's Dream . Performed by Symphony Orchestra of Gran Teatre del Liceu - Barcelone, realized by François Roussillon, the performance is full of modern symbolism.

As some interpreters say, Shakespeare expressed a lot of sexual connotations and hidden references to human love in this play. This aspect is intensified by the omnipresent double beds: All Act 1 is played on gigantic double bed with green coverlet and huge pillows. Act 2 stages multiple double beds, Act 3 starts with three beds hanging in the air. The opera ends by all the beds going up to heaven, leaving a place for the theatre of strange characters ....

Is our love always coming only from us? Or from our own will? Or our desires control it?
Are there sometimes forces (like the fairies, Oberon & Titania in the play) that takes us somewhere we would go ourselves?
Well, we all have experiences confirming that there is some truth in that Shakespeare/Britten message ....

The play ends with optimistic:
“Jack shall have Jill;Naught shall go ill;The man shall have his mare again,And all shall be well.”

... but there are undertones in the poetry: read the strophe sung repeatedly by happy lovers in the end: "mine own and not mine own" ....

As for music, as always with Britten, it is amazing. Act 1 features portamentos (glissandos) that create a special atmosphere of something unrealistic and mysterious.

However, my favourite was the music in the beginning of Act 3 - played with the entry of Oberon to the scene - sound almost minimalistic like that of much later Glass or Górecki....

Worth spending time with it !

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