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Benjamin Britten: A Midsummer Night's Dream - Glyndebourne Festival Opera  [DVD] 
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Shakespearean adaptation, written by Britain's most famous 20th Century composer, Benjamin Britten. This version was directed by theatre impresario Sir Peter Hall, and performed at the famous Glyndebourne Festival Opera. Forest spirits Oberon and Tytania exercise their powers mischievously upon a quartet of lovers and a hapless group of would-be thespians who find themselves in the wrong wood on midsummer night. Includes accompanying booklet.
First shown in 1981, this much-loved, magical play stars Helen Mirren as Titania with Robert Lindsay as Lysander, Brian Glover as Bottom, Geoffrey Palmer as Quince, Phil Daniels as Puck and Nigel Davenport as Theseus. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Filmed in the studio but retaining the feel of the stage (but a BBC stage!), its limited acting areas concentrate attention on the language; the low-lighting quality and simple sets achieve the same. Unlike films with a vast canvas, often a distraction, this never loses its focus from the dimly-lit appearance of Puck in the forest to his solo appearance at the end:
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
The only feature I think unkindly of are Bottom's ears, most unlike the objects they are meant to represent. However, it's such a small fault, not worth an earful! One element of filmed/televised Shakespeare which is often poor is the one element which should be outstanding - the sound quality and the diction. On this DVD, both are excellent.
Robert Lindsay makes a wonderful bemused Lysander, Cherith Mellor as Helena is not "as ugly as a bear" but captures the feelings well and Geoffrey Palmer's patient Quince is so diplomatic attempting to organise the motley crew headed by Brian Glover's exasperatingly enthusiastic Bottom. There are too many wonderful performances to mention.
Suffice to say, buy it and watch it.
I like performances of opera which don't look like they are films just taken in the theatre. They escape from the environment even if the theatre and surroundings are used at the outset. The use of faces in the audience listening to Mozart's Magic Flute directed by Ingmar Bergman is a case in point. The viewer can share the emotions they express. In this Dream the camera enters into the mysterious woodland setting and sets an atmosphere. What is this? There are shadowy figures in the trees. Whether human or not we are left to imagine. Peter Hall is the director who brings the wood to life, Bernard Haitink conducts the London Philharmonic as expertly as we expect from him.
The performers are from among the top singers with James Bowman as Oberon, King of the Fairies, who I associate with Brittens' music, and Ileana Cotrubus who I don't. Others such as Felicity Lott are among the cast. It is Puck who captures attention. He is one of a group of boys who are Oberon's courtiers and mischief is clearly what they are up to.
The troop of players including are fun, but I have to say having seen Geraint Evans in the role of Bottom at Covent Garden it is a hard act to follow. On that occasion Evans brought the house down.
I have now purchased four copies of this version of Britten's MND since I've ended passing them on to others, including my 8 year old grand daughter who was captivated.
This is a straight performance in period dress, well acted and sung, and well directed by Peter Hall (staging) and Bernard Haitink (music) for Glyndebourne. Given its age (it dates from 1981) both picture and sound are very good. It is almost invidious to single out an individual from such an overall excellent cast, but James Bowman stands out as Oberon, while the boy playing Puck (not a singing role) is also excellent.
Buy this recording - you won't be disappointed.
Producer Jonathan Miller and director Elijah Moshinsk deserve great credit for a piece which looks more sumptious than Miller's "King Lear" (as it needs to) but which is every bit as intelligently directed. In terms of lighting, sets and costumes, much has been taken from seventeenth century painting and masques. The night-time forest is a delight, as are the very funny scenes between the enchanted and misled lovers. The production boasts a uniformly strong cast which includes Helen Mirren (Titania), Robert Lindsay (Lysander), Nicky Henson (Demetrius), Phil Daniels (Puck), Peter McKenery (Oberon), Nigel Davenport (Theseus), Brian Glover (Bottom), Geoffrey Palmer, Don Estelle, Pippa Guard, etc.
In short, this is a first-rate production of what has to be one of Shakespeare's greatest and most magisterial of plays.
Beyond the "Subtitles" and "Scene Selection" options, the DVD has no extras.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a replacement of an original copy purchased 6 weeks after the performance, which I Attended, I had assisted with the Manufacture of the Costumes, and because of a fire lost... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Received on 25 March. Another replacement for Video, I expect it will be just as good as it was in that format!Published 16 months ago by Gillian Greville
It's a great pleasure to see and hear this beautiful version of Britten "Midsummer". All the artists involved deserve the warmest congratulations, especially Damien Nash... Read morePublished 19 months ago by dominique bagault