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Opera in three acts (1960)

Music by Benjamin Britten

Libretto by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears based on the play by William Shakespeares

In English with German surtitles

Production of Theater an der Wien

Premiere: Sunday, 15 April 2018, 7 pm

Performances: 17 / 19 / 21 / 23 / 25 April 2018, 7 pm

Content

Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears used Shakespeare’s famous text almost verbatim, the composer creating a score of suitably magical potency, and this fairy-tale opera became one of his most successful works. The allocation of the voices is unusual: Oberon is a countertenor, Titania a coloratura soprano — the king and queen of the fairies move in the very highest dimensions. Britten found a characteristic musical language for each of the magical and human spheres. Furthermore, in his composition he is always mindful of his famous predecessors who had written music for Shakespeare’s comedy: Henry Purcell, Carl Maria von Weber and Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. There is also a kind of history of opera hidden in the score. This comes to the fore in highly amusing fashion with the artisans’ performance in Act III: Britten presents Pyramus and Thisbe as a parody of Italian opera.

In Athens, preparations are under way for the marriage of the duke. Six artisans want to perform the play Pyramus and Thisbe in honour of the ruling couple and are rehearsing in the nearby forest. At the same time, the four young people Hermia, Helena, Demetrius and Lysander are having serious amorous troubles: Hermia’s father wishes her to marry Demetrius, but she loves Lysander, while Helena loves Demetrius. Hermia and Lysander hide in the forest, Helena and Demetrius follow them. However, the king and queen of the fairies who rule this woodland realm, Titania and Oberon, have fallen out over possession of a boy. The artisans and the four lovers are drawn into the magical struggles of Titania and Oberon in the most bewildering fashion – Oberon’s court jester Puck creates chaos with a magic flower that ignites love. Once enchantments have caused numerous protagonists to fall in love with the wrong people and then to fall out of love again, a happy ending is finally reached: reconciliation in the realm of the fairies, weddings of the humans and a delightful performance by the artisans.

Cast

Condcutor

Antonello Manacorda

Biography
Director

Damiano Michieletto

Biography
Set design

Paolo Fantin

Biography
Costume design

Klaus Bruns

Biography
Light design

Alessandro Carletti

Biography
Oberon

Bejun Mehta

Biography
Tytania

Anett Fritsch

Biography
Puck

N. N.

Biography
Theseus

Günes Gürle

Biography
Hippolyta

Ann-Beth Solvang

Biography
Lysander

Rupert Charlesworth

Biography
Demetrius

Tobias Greenhalgh

Biography
Hermia

Natalia Kawalek

Biography
Helena

Mirella Hagen

Biography
Bottom

Tareq Nazmi

Biography
Qunice

Lukas Jakobski

Biography
Flute

Michael Laurenz

Biography
Snug

Dumitru Madarašan

Biography
Snout

Andrew Owens

Biography
Starveling

Kristján Jóhannesson

Biography
Orchestra

Wiener Symphoniker

Biography

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