A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
Generously Sponsored by:
Music by Benjamin Britten
Libretto adapted by Peter Pears after the play by William Shakespeare
Saturday, February 23, 2013 – 7:30
Sunday, February 24, 2013 – 4:30
Miromar Design Center
Tickets: $50, $80, $110
Opera Naples returns to the Miromar Design Center, site of its highly praised 2011 production of Lucia de Lammermoor, to present A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the classic Shakespeare work set to music by renowned British composer, Benjamin Britten. Premiered in 1960, this opera continues to find new audiences and a place in the global operatic repertoire. 2013 marks the centennial of the celebrated composer’s birth.
The role of Oberon will be performed by John Gaston, a countertenor noted for his “velvety tone and regal serenity,” by the New York Times. Mr. Gaston appears on the rosters of The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago. He made his Boston Lyric Opera debut in the role of Oberon during the 2010-2011 Season.
Soprano Heather Buck, who performed in Opera Naples’ 2010 production, Romeo and Juliet: Then and Now, returns to sing the role of Tytania. She is a consummate singing actress, “combining agile, liquid soprano, a bright, natural stage presence, and the timing of an expert comedienne.” (Opera News) She joined the Met Opera roster in 2011-2012, and was part of Florentine Opera’s Grammy-winning cast in a recording of Robert Aldridge’s Elmer Gantry.
Veteran Shakespeare stage director Cecil MacKinnon, known for her innovative use of non-traditional performance spaces, will collaborate with Designer Philip Watson on a new production for Opera Naples.
Cobweb – Luciano Marsalli
Mustardseed – Jimmy Baker
Moth – Frankie Federico
Peaseblossom – Kira Vehse
Theseus – Eric McKeever
Hippolyta – Melissa Vitrella
Quince – Christopher Besch
Flute – Kunya Rowley
Snug – Ron Hatley
Snout – Nathan Mitchell
Starveling – John McKerrow
Stage Director – Cecil MacKinnon
Oberon, King of the Fairies, has been quarrelling with his queen Tytania over a young boy who is under her protection. Tytania is furious with Oberon, and refuses to give up the boy to him. To make her yield to his will, Oberon sends his servant Puck to find a magic flower, whose juice will make Tytania fall in love with the first creature she sees when she next wakes up. His plan is to steal the boy while she is under the spell.
The lovers Lysander and Hermia meet outside Athens to escape from the law which allows Hermia’s father to force her into marriage with Demetrius. They decide to elope and marry in secret and set off. Demetrius has been alerted by Helena that Hermia is running away. Demetrius chases after her pursued by Helena, who of course is helplessly in love with him. Demetrius rejects Helena and runs ahead to catch Hermia. Oberon has overheard this scene, and orders Puck to seek out Demetrius and place the juice of the magic flower on his eyes as well so that he will fall in love with Helena.
Six tradesmen arrive discussing a play they hope to perform at the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. Peter Quince, the author and director of the play, hands out scripts; all agree to learn their parts and meet later that night to rehearse.
Lysander and Hermia are hopelessly lost. They lie down in exhaustion to sleep, and Puck, thinking he has found Demetrius, places the magic juice on Lysander’s eyes. Demetrius, still pursued by Helena, abandons her to the dangers of the night. Helena sees the sleeping Lysander and wakes him. Under the effect of the flower’s charm, he immediately falls in love with her. She runs off in a fury, thinking he is making fun of her, and Lysander pursues. Hermia awakes to find herself alone.
Meanwhile, the fairies help their mistress Tytania to sleep. Oberon steals in to cast the spell upon her.
Quince and his fellow thespians meet for rehearsal. After addressing several problems with the script, rehearsals eventually begin. Puck, seeing the men at work, decides to amuse himself giving Bottom the head of a donkey. At the sight of this strange creature, the others run off in terror. Left alone, Bottom sings out loud to keep his spirits up. His singing wakes the nearby Tytania, who immediately falls in love with him.
Oberon is delighted to find Tytania in love with a donkey, but he is troubled to see Hermia still pursued by Demetrius. The arrival of Lysander in pursuit of Helena makes it clear that Puck has put the love juice on the eyes of the wrong man.
Demetrius, rejected by Hermia, falls asleep, and Oberon places the juice on his eyes. Helena returns, still harassed by Lysander’s protestations of love. Demetrius wakes, sees Helena, and falls in love with her. Oberon and Puck witness the furious quarrel which erupts between the four mortals.
Oberon is furious with Puck for his mistake and gives him an herb that will act as an antidote for Lysander. By imitating the men’s voices, Puck keeps the lovers apart until they each again fall asleep. He then places the herb on Lysander’s eyes.
Oberon has softened in his feelings for his queen, and releases Tytania from the spell. She wakes to see her beloved Oberon and is appalled that she could have been in love with a donkey.
Daybreak wakes the four lovers. Demetrius is still in love with Helena and Lysander is once again in love with Hermia. Bottom, having been restored to his human form, wakes from what he believes was the strangest dream, and goes off while his friends search for him. They all but give up on finding their friend when he returns with the good news that their play will be performed for Theseus and Hippolyta.
The lovers come to beg Theseus’ forgiveness for their disobedience to the law. Theseus decides that the two couples shall be married at the same time as he and Hippolyta. After Quince and his players have given their performance of “Pyramus and Thisby,” the three couples retire to their respective chambers. Oberon, Tytania, and the fairies arrive to bless the sleeping household.