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Midsummer Night's Dream [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Ileana Cotrubas , James Bowman , Dave Heather    DVD
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 10.15
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Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

Note: you may purchase only one copy of this product. New Region 1 DVDs are dispatched from the USA or Canada and you may be required to pay import duties and taxes on them (click here for details). Please expect a delivery time of 5-7 days.

Product details

  • Actors: Ileana Cotrubas, James Bowman, Ryland Davies, Dale Duesing, Cynthia Buchan
  • Directors: Dave Heather
  • Writers: Benjamin Britten, Peter Pears, William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Herbert Chappell
  • Format: Classical, Colour, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Kultur Video
  • DVD Release Date: 27 July 2004
  • Run Time: 156 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B000294T4M
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 231,225 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Britten undersold 1 July 2006
The extreme disappointment I felt after first watching this Midsummer Night's Dream has been tempered a little by subsequent viewings, but there is no doubt in my mind that this is a seriously flawed performance.
With a couple of key exceptions which I'll get to in a minute, it's hard to blame individual performers. They range from quite good to superb. Top prize goes to Damien Nash, whose impish looks and voice set a benchmark for the role of Puck. He is far better than the rather plummy and stiff Stephen Terry in the old 1960 recording conducted by the composer. The lovers acquit themselves well, particularly Cynthia Buchan in the role of Hermia and Felicity Lott as Helena. Their Act 2 scrap is appropriately catty, hard as it is to imagine anyone taking exception to the ever-delightful Flott. Lieuwe Visser and Claire Powell perform well in the small parts of Theseus and Hippolyta, somewhat less stuffy than John Shirley-Quirk and Helen Watts in the 1960 recording. Individually the Rustics are fine, Curt Appelgren as Bottom and Patrick Power as Flute deserving special mention. Power makes more of Flute/Thisbe than the standard drag queen portrayal and Appelgren gives us a Pyramus/Bottom who calls for sympathy as well as laughter.
As far as perfomances are concerned, it's the fairies who let the side down (Puck excepted), starting with Oberon and Tytania. James Bowman's Oberon, hooting out of the forest, has the range of vocal and visual expression of a stuffed owl. Ileana Cotrubas seems to believe Tytania is producing a toothpaste commercial. Time flies in lead boots when either is on stage.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dream come true 12 Sep 2004
By Richard - Published on
I've been waiting for this to arrive on DVD having fallen in love with it on LaserDisk. And it has been worth the wait. Britten is up to the task of turning Shakespeare into opera. He devises a different sound for each of the three forces - the fairies, the mortals and the rustics. The casting is ideal with a young Cotrubas as Titania outstanding. Bernard Haitink keeps everything moving. And Peter Hall gives it a magical production with an eerie forest where the trees seem to have a life of their own. All comes to a head in the Pyramus and Thysbe drama played as a hilarious spoof of bel canto. Let yourself be translated to fairyland.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely music and production 21 Feb 2005
By D. Smith - Published on
I think Britten handled Shakespeare very well here, and I only wish he had set other Shakespeare plays into opera. The mechanicals were very funny and I thought the lovers quite convincing, though not teenagers. Britten seemed to trust children in his operas as his career went on; here the fairies are all children (except Oberon and Titania) and Puck is especially tricky as a little boy. I thought Cotrubas was a very effective Titania and wished that a recent production of the play I saw (not the opera) had such an imperious fairy queen. I was not crazy about the Oberon, but it was Britten's choice to have a high male voice for the part, for good dramatic reason, to stress his difference from humans; but I found the voice to lack power. Others have said they did not like the woods, but I found them quite magical and for me, they worked very well, giving a rustling magical forest feeling. The mechanicals are funny and their opera within an opera is silly and touching.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A weird and wonderful Midsummer Night's Dream 13 Oct 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format:VHS Tape
This is a fascinating record of the now legendary production of Britten's opera by Peter Hall at Glyndebourne. Staged after his hugely successful production of Cavalli's La Calisto, at the same house, he brought with him one of the brightest of it's young stars, the beautiful Romanian soprano, Ileana Cotrubas.
Here as Tytania, she creates a sexy spitfire of a fairy queen, her plunging cleavage and "punk" coiffure and make up adding to the sense that Oberon and his queen really are from quite another world. Curiously, or perhaps not when one considers her love of England and "her house", Covent Garden, she interprets Britten's music with obvious understanding and characteristic perception and refinement. Of course her thrilling soprano is as rich and lovely as ever. James Bowman is the commanding looking Oberon, standing at least a foot over his queen, but contrastingly his voice is one of a pure toned counter tenor.
All the cast perform with commitment and relish for the music, and Bernard Haitink conducts the London Philharmonic with his customary intelligence. Sir Peter's extraordinary vision and artistic confidence are wonderfully showcased in this magical production, designed by John Bury. Heartily reccomended to any musical or Shakespearean student or lover.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Music 23 Jan 2005
By John Archer - Published on
The London Philharmonic, the truly spectacular boy's voices, and some great opera singing show off the extraordinary brilliance of Britten's composition and make this recording a necessary part of a serious opera collection. But don't expect the same from the production. The sets and costumes leave much to be desired. None of the lovers look convincing, and the "moving branches" that constitute the forest make one think of Macbeth's Birnam Woods a bit too often! A "low budget" production can often work very well for live opera performances, but with zoom lenses on the cameras and a relatively large screen home theater, the flaws distract. I enjoyed some of the scenes more by turning away from the screen and just listening.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Production 20 Aug 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format:VHS Tape
This opera is a slightly shortened version of the Shakespearre play sung in English. It would be much easier to understand if it had subtitles or if you know the original play well. Britten's eery musical effects are super as are those of the staging. Some of the high points revolve around the boys choral singing and the weird effect of the fairy king/queen duos (James Bowman/Ileana Cortrubas). The humans are very good both in the difficult vocal lines and the acting to make them seem plausible. The acting and vocals of the rustics (especially Bottom) are really excellent even in the very difficult ensemble parts. My only reservations are that Britten's music is often difficult for my relatively untrained ear and that the diction and language cause some difficulty in understanding the text. On the other hand, for pure virtuosic singing, this is a wonderful example.
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