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  • Benjamin Britten - A Midsummer Night's Dream (Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona 2005) [DVD] [2009]
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Benjamin Britten - A Midsummer Night's Dream (Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona 2005) [DVD] [2009]

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£13.19 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details Only 4 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

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Product details

  • Actors: David Daniels, Ofelia Sara, Gordon Gietz, Emil Wolk, Harry Bicket
  • Directors: Robert Carsen, François Roussillon
  • Format: Classical, Colour, DVD-Video, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Catalan
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Virgin Classics
  • DVD Release Date: 9 Jan. 2006
  • Run Time: 146 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000AY2K4A
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 75,790 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By huw on 17 May 2014
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Libretto by Shakespeare, music by Britten. It does not get better than that. The magical story will be familiar to most. The production is really imaginative,colorful and brings out all of the comic aspects very well. There are some magical moments; the coming of dawn at the opening of Act 3: the raising of the beds to set the stage for the play. Puck captures the Shakespearean "fool" very well. Amazing acrobatics,

For me the most enjoyable aspect of the opera is having the wonderful words of Shakespeare so well set.: .You can enjoy every nuance: by this stage in his career (it was written in 1960) Britten had become a master at writing vocal lines that articulate clearly the words.

The orchestra is a small chamber group; a little larger than he used in the Turn of the Screw. The operatic cast outnumber the musicians in the pit. This is one of Britten's most performed operas which is loved around the world. Britten is the most performed Opera composer from the 20th Century. I recommend it to anyone.:
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By T B SWEET on 11 Aug. 2013
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While the musical qualities of the production are excellent, the DVD is totally ruined by the ridiculous gurning performance of an out-of-control Emil Wolk as Puck. His ludicrous "reacting" to Oberon's magnificent "Be it on lion, bear, wolf or bull..." killed it for me (and that is about 15 minutes in). Don't buy it. If, like me, you have bought a copy do what I did - throw it into the nearest dustbin.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
Mesmerizing Recreation of Shakespeare's Ironic Comedy Performed to the Hilt by a Stellar Cast 1 Feb. 2006
By Ed Uyeshima - Published on
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Truly one of the most beguiling of Benjamin Britten's operas, his 1960 adaptation (with longtime partner and co-librettist Peter Pears) of Shakespeare's fanciful comedy, "A Midsummer Night's Dream", was given a highly original makeover in Canadian music director Robert Carsen's production at the 1995 Festival of Aix-en-Provence. With some surprising cinematic touches added by film director Francois Roussillon, the production has been faithfully reworked in this wonderful April 2005 staging at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. Virgin Classics has done a superb job in capturing the magic of this performance, which hopefully signals a trend toward even more such DVD packages.

Highlighting the sexual tensions of the original play on a minimalist, blue-green-dominated set, Carsen foregoes period costumes to focus on the essence of the various themes by retaining the humor while still evoking a constant aura of mystery in his translation. Anyone familiar with the play knows that Shakespeare saturated his text with twisting ironies among a diverse set of characters, and Britten creatively responds with a unique musical style for each group - the folk-like pastiche of brass for the rustic characters (i.e. the "mechanicals"); the more noble sounds of strings and woodwinds which reflect Britten's more recognized style for the lovers; and the ethereal blend of percussion, harpsichord and harps full of glissandi for the immortals. These distinctions lend musical shadings that create the ideal panorama of emotions and comic elements to pull off Shakespeare's tale.

The international cast is superb and given the multiple nationalities represented, surprisingly compatible. The ensemble starts with the extraordinary American countertenor David Daniels as the fairy king, Oberon. In a relatively understated performance despite his resplendent green attire and matching green hair, he commands the stage with the right mix of unbridled romanticism and searing malevolence. Indicative of the part as originated by Alfred Dellar, the lower register of his voice is used splendidly, especially on his key Act I number, "I know a bank where the wild thyme blows". Even though he is known far more as a Handelian, Daniels's obvious affinity for Purcell (as evidenced on his recital discs, "Serenade" and "A Quiet Thing") serves him well here. Spanish soprano Ofelia Sala offers a full-bodied Tytania with a lovely voice that encompasses the coloratura of the role and a comic deftness to move fluidly from impervious to smitten as Bottom's unintended paramour. A high point is her delightful version of Act II's "Be kind and courteous to this gentleman".

As the first pair of lovers, Lysander and Hermia, Canadian tenor Gordon Gietz and American mezzo-soprano Deanne Meek exude passion effortlessly, sing beautifully together and provide the grounding necessary for their later comic scenes. German soprano Brigitte Hahn and with an especially dark timbre, English baritone William Dazeley, appear as the more comical second pair, Helena and Demetrius. The dynamic interaction of these four, whether quarreling or fleeing from each other due to Puck's intrusive magic, produces an engaging romp, all the while making Britten's music vibrant with emotional fervor and clear diction. English veterans from the 2004 Glyndebourne production fill the remaining principal roles. Bass-baritone Peter Rose makes a fine, subtle Bottom with a strong voice. Managing to remain expressive even in a full-head donkey mask, he lends an endearing quality and makes the most of his recital of his dream of love with Tytania. Proving a boisterous band, the mechanicals work well as an ensemble with tenor Christopher Gillett an appropriately naive Flute and bass Henry Waddington a lively albeit controlling Quince.

In the speaking role of Puck, the physically antic Emil Wolk is not the young figure one generally envisions in the role but a mischievous, middle-aged sprite who plays with the rhythms of Shakespeare's prose a little too freely (the cadences feel somewhat off). Costumed as green-hued gentleman's gentlemen with mustaches, the chorus of fairies is played liltingly by the Escolania de Montserrat under choirmaster Joaquim Pique. Michael Levine's strikingly bare but highly dramatic-looking set consists of a deep blue backdrop with just a crescent moon and most of the stage taken by a large platform laid out as a huge bed covered with a green bedspread. Two huge pillows are revealed underneath the bedcovers, and they become multi-purposed as river banks for the lovers to set themselves and as Tytania's bed at the end of Act I.

The bed theme remains constant throughout the opera with, for example, three beds suspended dramatically in mid-air, two containing the pairs of lovers and one containing Tytania and Bottom. They ascend and descend depending on the plot turns. Lighting is also used dramatically, especially in the Act II entrance of Oberon and Puck. This is a visual as well as aural treat, and under Harry Bicket's expert baton, the Symphony Orchestra of the Gran Theatre del Liceu performs the music with dazzling dexterity and disciplined pacing. The 160-minute opera is presented on two discs with Acts I and II on the first and Act III on the second, and the package also includes a small pamphlet with credits, color photos and scene titles. Subtitles are available, though the credits in the recording itself are strictly in French.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Great Setting of One of Britten's Last Operas 9 Jan. 2009
By Stephan Laurent - Published on
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Britten's vision of the Bard's most famous fantasy-comedy is a strong departure from the idyllic and much-better known musical setting by Mendelssohn. Although adhering quite closely to Shakespeare's text, Britten's version naturally takes the harmonic and melodic daring experimental paths for which the greatest English composer of the 20th century is well known. The string Glissandi heralding the magic forest setting, the sweet voices of the boys chorus representing its fairy inhabitants, the Stravinsky-like trumpet-and-snare-drum combination accompanying Puck all create quite a magical environment, with comic relief provided by Bottom and his cohort of rustics (complete, in the "play-within-a-play", with amusing pastiches of Rossini, Verdi, and Donizetti operatic tics).
This production by the Barcelona (Spain) Opera is magnificently realized, with a set that transforms the fairy forest into a gigantic bed with green sheets that keep staining the hapless comic lovers as they pursue eachother, and a moonbox that illuminates all with an "ill-met" glow. But above all, we have here David Daniels, probably one of the best countertenors of recent decades, featured in the central role of Oberon, accompanied by a most able cast.
Be prepared for some shocks, some laughter, and much musical enjoyment.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A mesmerizing performance 30 Nov. 2009
By PJ Wong - Published on
Other reviewers have described this production well, so I'll just highlight my impressions. I recently wrote a 25-page paper on this opera, and I found that this production in every way fulfilled my hopes. It is simultaneously faithful to Britten and Shakespeare, and creative with metaphor, staging, and acting.

First, I was very struck by the set design, which was minimalistic but highly effective. The first act features the stage covered in green cloth, with two white bed-sized cushions on the side. As a result the entire stage is a gigantic bed. This highlights the dual themes of sexuality and dreaming. The lighting is simple - green, blue, and white. Green and blue are for the fairies, with green belonging to Oberon primarily and blue to Tytania. In the third act, which is partly set in the human court, the stage is white -- for the humans. All through,the humans are dressed in white with white lighting, but as their quarrel in the wood progresses and they come under the influence of Oberon's fairy magic, they are progressively more soiled with green and cast in green and blue lights. That is only one example of highly metaphorical, effective, and simple set design and costuming.

Staging is similarly well done. One reviewer says that the sexual tensions are highlighted. It is done well, taking into account that the story begs the need for the characters to be physical. My tastes are generally conservative, but for adults it is clear that this is stage kissing. By some interpretations, Oberon could be portrayed as having diverse sexual interests-- why exactly does he want the changeling boy? But my interpretation (and most standard interpretations of the Shakespeare) is that the child is a pawn in the tug-of-war between Oberon and Tytania. Theirs is a marital power conflict. I appreciated that David Daniel's performance did not try to read extraneous sexual interests into the character of Oberon. He is a serene and distant Oberon, truly in a different world from the humans. As could be expected, his singing was magnificent and the magic of his voice must have been amazing in the live performance.

I could mention each of the singers with praise, but for the length of the review let me say that they fulfill the highest expectations! The lovers interact with the right balance of passion and insanity, the Fairies with a Baroque grace, and the rustics with a bumbling repartee that is so finely-tuned that it perfectly illuminates Britten's work.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Clever Staging 6 Sept. 2012
By New Yorker - Published on
I never miss a Robert Carsen production, as this director is unfailingly imaginative yet always faithful to
the work. The set is basically just one big bed--because there is so much sleeping in the piece--but there
is lots to enjoy visually. The cast is quite good, though I have to say I didn't like the Puck, whose comic
"caperings" were too forced. He's also played as a full-grown man, whereas Britten wanted an acrobatic youngster.
The fairies, a chorus of adolescents, are all perfect little gentlemen with quaint green moustaches; their
scorn for Bottom is very funny. This DVD set is ideal for not only opera lovers but Shakespeareans as well.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful!! 30 Jan. 2009
By T. C. - Published on
Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful and charming performance from each and every point of view.

The pervious reviewer remark about this not being the entire opera is nonsense.

This is the entire Britten opera, but Britten did not compose the first act of the Shakespeare play, and his enchanting opera opens in the magic wood...

Highly recommended!
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