NEW YORK (AP) -- Composers spent hundreds of years
struggling to create an opera from Shakespeare's ``A
Midsummer Night's Dream'' before Britten finally managed to
get the work on stage in 1960. It took another 36 years for
the piece to make it to the Metropolitan Opera.
Tim Albery's modernist 1996 production was revived for the
first time Monday night, with a strong cast led by David
Designer Antony McDonald created striking set designs,
which include a horizontal tree and a crescent moon that
becomes a bed, and successfully narrowed the vast Met stage
with a cartoonlike inner proscenium. He also dressed the
characters in colorful costumes -- Daniels' third act
sequined suit had fairy wings.
It was an appropriately magical world in the Athenian
woods, one that ensured that a sometimes dark work didn't
become too heavy. While the actors came across as ominous
in the first act, the humor and comic timing got stronger
throughout the night. And Britten's shimmering music,
especially at the end of the second act, was captivating.
Peter Rose's hilarious Bottom and Victoria Livengood's
Hippolyta were the chief holdovers from five years ago.
Daniels excelled both at singing and acting the
countertenor role of Oberon, the fairy king, managing to
carry off the necessary snarls to convey his authority over
Tytania and Puck even while wearing a velvety green suit
and shiny pink vest with two rows of brass-colored buttons.
Soprano Alexandra Deshorties (Tytania) overcame one
extremely squalid high note early on and looked lovely when
she fell in love with Bottom -- turned into a donkey by
Puck -- and slept alongside him on the crescent moon. But,
overall, she fell short of creating a captivating presence
in her role as the fairy queen.
British soprano Susan Chilcott made her Met debut as Helena
and floated some impressive piano notes, paired with
mezzo-soprano Maria Zifchak's somewhat restrained Hermia.
Tenor Paul Groves (Lysander) and baritone Nathan Gunn
(Demetrius) both sang strongly as the male lovers, and
Jeffrey Wells, wearing a golden suit simulating a muscled
bare chest, looked menacing is the short third act bass
role of Theseus.
Rose was the standout among the six working men, doing some
nice dancing with the Donkey head on and pairing with Barry
Banks' Flute in ``Pyramus and Thisby,'' the play within a
play. Justin Brill made his Met debut in the spoken role of
David Atherton, who conducted the original run, drew out
all the colors of Britten's score. Puccini and Verdi might
give the Met trouble, but in 20th century works the company
Wed Apr 24 2002 (1:21:22 AM)