A Midsummer Night's Dream

TONY COOPER English Touring Opera at Snape Maltings

TONY COOPER

Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream has travelled the world since its premiere at Aldeburgh's minute Jubilee Hall in 1961 and now comes back home with a rare performance at the concert hall Britten was inspired to build on the marshes by the Alde.

Directed by James Conway, ETO's general director, this Dream is an artistic triumph for this energetic and appealing company, celebrating this year its 25th anniversary.

Britten's music captures the world of fairyland in a wonderful way and conductor Michael Rosewell brought the score scarily alive, particularly in the opening scene, when in the forest, quiet and secretive, the world of the faeries unfold. The strings were chillingly frightening at this point in a production dark and sinister and at times very slowly paced. A deliberate ploy, I should imagine.

Jonathan Peter Kelly's Oberon was magical to a degree, with his deep counter-tenor voice quite mesmerising and clear. His queen Titania (Rebecca Bottone) was on top form and excelled herself buzzing about in the upper register while Hal Cazelet (Lysander) showed once again how he's a natural with Britten and on the ascent of a glittering career. Last year he put in a stunning performance singing the role of Albert in Albert Herring at Norwich Theatre Royal for Glyndebourne Touring Opera.

The set and costumes by Joanna Parker were out of this world, complemented by some clever lighting design by Aideen Malone, which gave the production some great atmospheric and bright moments.

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