In 1981 I was lucky enough to see a performance of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Glyndebourne. It was a turning point in my life and the confirmation that opera would become a great love. Now 35 years later I have been privileged to see the 2016 revival of that very production. Of course the stage is now bigger, the technologies smarter and as a result expectations very high indeed. Glyndebourne of course was not going to let this stand in the way of delivering a sublime evening of music and theatre. From the fabulous settings and costumes to the brilliance of the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jakob Hrůša, the vivid singing of the Trinity Boys Choir to the excellence of the principals – this was an epic display of opera at its very best. David Evans was every inch the perfect diminutive Puck, commanding the stage with every impish appearance. Tim Mead’s Oberon was delivered with imperious conviction, Kathleen Kim gave Tytania an impassioned sexuality and Matthew Rose wrung every comedic and sad moment from his portrayal of buffoonish Bottom.
Originally directed by Peter Hall the revival has been stunningly re-realised by Lynne Hockney, breathing a freshness into the whole whilst at the same time retaining the original spirit of his production.
From the quiet opening of sliding strings to the very final and again quiet moment, this was an evening of pure magic. The swaying human trees, the darkness of a brilliantly lit stage, the contrast of the confident “fairies” and the fragile “humans” and a score and libretto that does justice to Shakespeare’s masterpiece – to experience art of this calibre once in a lifetime is a priceless, for me to see it twice goes way beyond that initial privilege.