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A good night unto us all

Santa Fe
The Crosby Theater
07/31/2021 -  & August 4, 13, 19, 25, 2021
Benjamin Britten: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Opus 64
Erin Morley (Tytania), Iestyn Davies (Oberon), Teresa Perrotta (Helena), Adanya Dunn (Hermia), Duke Kim (Lysander), Michael J. Hawk (Demetrius), Reed Luplau (Puck), Nicholas Brownlee (Bottom), Brenton Ryan (Flute), Matthew Grills (Snout), Patrick Carfizzi (Starveling), Kevin Burdette (Quince), William Meinert (Snug), Lindsay Kate Brown (Hippolyta), Cory McGee (Theseus)
Santa Fe Opera Chorus, Susanne Sheston (Chorus Mistress), Santa Fe Opera Orchestra, Harry Bicket (Conductor)
Netia Jones (Director, Scenic, Costume, Projection Designer), Reed Luplau (Choreographer), D. M. Wood (Lighting Designer), Melanie Bacaling (Assistant Stage Director)

R. Luplau (© Curtis Brown for SFO)

The Santa Fe Opera (SFO) has presented four operas this season, instead of the habitual five: The Marriage of Figaro, Eugene Onegin, the world premiere of John Corigliano’s The Lord of Cries, and last night, Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, four new productions true to the notorious reputation of this company. All four operas will run until August 27.

British director/designer Netia Jones is known for being a stage virtuoso. Her versatility and consummate artistry are made obvious in this new production. She admitted in an interview that “one can go in any direction with this piece," and she does explore some original paths. Choosing to take into account some of the specificities of the State of New Mexico, its emphatic skies, its interest in astronomy and cosmology, Jones alludes to the local elements. The set consists of a giant moon, a few telescopes, an armillary sphere, a tilted grand piano leaning against a tree, while striking projections create a dreamlike environment. The back of the stage is wide open on a dramatic sunset, courtesy of the New Mexico monsoon. The staging reflects a multilayered narration: farcical, humorous, cahotic, serious, sensual, grotesque, poetical, and always indulging.

The numerous cast rises to this challenging work, and it seems unfair to single out just a few of them. All brilliantly do what they are supposed to do. The singing and the acting are what they are supposed to be, and, along with the sound coming from the pit, the story unfolds in the blink of an eye.

The SFO Orchestra under Harry Bicket delivers a zesty account of this delectable score. The subtleties of Britten’s musical language are superbly addressed. Compliments to all musicians, with a special salute to flutes for superbly mocking Tytania’s grotesque idyll, to trombones and percussions for their eloquent robustness and solemnity, and the strings for their stylish introduction to Act III.

SFO’s new presentation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream vividly demonstrates – if need be – the ultimate adequacy of Britten’s music with the realm of Shakespearian fantasy.

Santa Fe Opera

Christian Dalzon



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