The Fairy Queen

The Fairy Queen

Henry Purcell

SEMI-OPERA in five acts. Anonymous adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
Premiered on 2 May 1692 at the Dorset Garden Theatre in London

Presentation of the work 30 minutes prior to each performance

Musical direction, William Christie / Jonathan Cohen & Mise en scène, Jonathan Kent

Lucy Crowe, Andrew Foster-Williams, Claire Debono, Ed Lyon, Emmanuelle de Negri, Robert Burt, William Gaunt, Robert East, Alice Haig, Nicholas Shaw, Gwilym Lee, Jo Herbert, Roger Sloman, Robert Burt, Desmond Barrit, Paul Mc Cleary, Brian Pettifer, Jack Chissick, Amanda Harris, Jotham Annan, Finbar Lynch

Les Arts Florissants

 

Presentation

Written by Shakespeare to celebrate aristocratic nuptials around 1595, adapted with pageant for the London public during the Restoration, the comedy, turned semi-opera, intermingles in the course of a single night an aristocratic marriage, pastoral romance, dramatic love affairs performed by amateur actors and the marital quarrels between Oberon and Titania, king and queen of the elves. Sylvan darkness, the liberating force of dreams and the whimsical influence of the moon that promotes the contagion of love, the work covers the spectrum of sentiment and the whole gamut of laughter with fancy, making it a peak of Baroque performance.
 

Cast

Musical direction,William Christie / (le 24 janvier) Jonathan Cohen
Stage direction, Jonathan Kent
Scenery and costumes, Paul Brown
Lighting, Mark Henderson
Choreography, Kim Brandstrup
Stage direction assistant, Francesca Giplin
Choreography assistant , Joanna O’Keeffe
Choirmaster, François Bazola
Linguistic councillor, Sophie Decauvadeine

Soprano, Juno, Lucy Crowe
Bass, Coridon, Winter, Hymen, Sleep, Andrew Foster-Williams
Mystery, 1st Fairy, Nymph, Spring, Claire Debono
Fairies, Miriam Allan*, Anna Devin*, Claire Debono*, Maud Gnidzaz*
Ténor, Chinese Man (Adam), Secrecy, Ed Lyon
Ténor, Summer, Sean Clayton*
Bass, Callum Thorpe*
Soprano, Night, the Plaint, Emmanuelle de Negri
Mopsa, Robert Burt
Phoebus, Andrew Davies*
Autumn, David Webb*
Chinese Woman (Eve), Helen Jane Howells*
Theseus, William Gaunt
Egeus, Robert East
Hermia,Alice Haig
Lysander,Nicholas Shaw
Demetrius, Gwilym Lee
Helena, Jo Herbert
Starveling, Roger Sloman
Flute, Robert Burt
Bottom, Desmond Barrit
Quince, Paul Mc Cleary
Snug, Brian Pettifer
Snout, Jack Chissick
Titania, Amanda Harris
Puck, Jotham Annan
Oberon, Finbar Lynch
Dancers, Laura Caldow, Omar Gordon, Samuel Guy,Anthony Kurt-Gabel, Jarkko Lehmus, Caroline Lynn, Maurizio Montis, Sarah Storer
Indian Boy (en alternance), Adel Aïssani, Riad Ghelazi, Lucien Pech

Chorus and orchestra , Les Arts Florissants

* Members of the chorus

 

Co-production, Opéra Comique
Glyndebourne Festival (créé le 20 juin 2009)
Théâtre de Caen (février 2010)
Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York (mars 2010)

Synopsis

Act I
Theseus, Duke of Athens, makes sure the laws are enforced and the children submit to paternal authority. Thus, young Hermia must marry Demetrius as demanded by her father Egeus. Yet she is in love with Lysander and both decide to run away. But their plan stirs up jealousy in unfortunate Helena. Did not Demetrius abandon her after he seduced her? To win back his favour, she tells him that his fiancée has eloped with Lysander. In the woods near Athens, some craftsmen meet to perform the tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe for the duke. There, Titania the Fairy Queen hides her adoptive child from her jealous husband Oberon. By his order, the elves drive the intruders away by tormenting them. A drunken poet who has come to the woods for inspiration falls into their hands.

Act II
At night a conflict breaks out between Oberon and Titania, reproaching one another’s extramarital affairs and arguing about who is to have the orphan. Oberon decides to chastise his wife as well as Athenian Demetrius, whose disloyalty he condemns. So his sprite Puck will use the irresistible juice from a love flower. During the Masque of Sleep, Night, Mystery, Secrecy and Sleep deaden Titania’s senses and vigilance. Puck casts a spell on her so that she succumbs to the first arrival but he mixes up the Athenian lovers.

Act III
On awaking, Lysander becomes enamoured of Helena and forsakes Hermia. The artisans’ dramatic rehearsal sinks into a ludicrous caricature as Puck intervenes. He chooses Bottom, the most conceited among these dabblers, and turns his head into a donkey’s, making his companions flee, but the Fairy Queen falls in love with him as she opens her eyes. Titania endeavours to hold back Bottom by offering him the Masque of Seduction by way of entertainment.

Act IV
Oberon has sent Puck to redress his mistake as the four lovers are extremely confused. Before dawn Oberon takes hold of the child and releases Titania from the spell. The lovers awake from their dream and the two pairs are properly matched in the end. The King and Queen of the fairies seal their reconciliation with a great party, the Masque of the New Day, during which Phoebus presents them with the Seasons.

Act V
Content with the new moods of the two Athenian couples, Duke Theseus requires their nuptials. Eventually, the artisans can present their burlesque performance. But the celebration ends with greater dignity in the presence of Titania and Oberon with the Masque of Marriage during which Juno herself instructs the newly-weds in the delights and dangers of their new condition.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

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