Don't Buy This
W. Walsh | Chambersburg, PA | 02/26/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The music and singing are beautiful (it's Purcell after all) but the production is a freak show, full of repulsive characters, ugly (as opposed to graceful) modern dancing and lots of silly and meaningless stage business. There is no attempt to recreate the beauty of the masques or relate the action to the musical themes. It is modern updating at its worst! See Minkowski's Platee for a successful update of a Rameau classic. If you like Purcell, get the CD and avoid this nightmare."
Fresh and Sagacious
Guntram | PR,Brazil | 09/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Something fresh,something sagacious.Whereas Purcell's music was performed in genuine style by Nicholas Kok and his fine musicians,David Pourtney burts routine and obviousness in this charming,clever production.That modern drag queens(Titania's fairies)just rescues ancient traditions on male actors performing female characters.Statesmen,drunk guys,political satire...A whole human being panorama was there.Truly,I can fell all Shakespeare's tale spirit on costumes by Dunya Ramikova.Of course,many listeners will prefer a better singer to Oberon.Nonetheless,we have Titania by Yvonne Kenny,her outstanding "O,Let me Weep",that delicious Yvonne Barclay soprano voice (Caroline),that so funny countertenor duet leading by Michael Chance on Part two,...Jonathan Best!What a triumphal actor and singer(The Drunken Poet)!Listen me,all of you;don't deprive yourselves of this optimistic,cheerful DVD just because some people become impervious to new ideas."
This night's dream
John Gray Hunter Jr. | Wilmington, NC USA | 03/18/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a lively production of a musical form that, if seen as 1st done, would baffle, insult [How can they do this to Shakespeare?!] and bore a modern audience to tears. For this disjointed, vaguely attached to "Midsummer" romp, the wisely chosen way to go is a modern dream: a dream on the Shakespearian subject one might have this very evening.
The music is the star. Purcell is divine in this reading. The ditties are catchy and rare, fun and tinged with melancholy, simple and complex...all at once. The imagery doesn't try too hard to make sense of the tableaux... just enough for it all to hold up more than what it originally was... which was a parade of allegorical characters "Night", "Secrecy", the 4 Seasons, Hyman, Phoebes... This version is not unlike a string of music videos that have a thin thread to hold them together.
Because this is a modern dream, the costumes and scenery are modern in their look and symbolism. The dance is perfect for the 20th century feel, it's not Swan Lake, y'know. The dance is remarkably balanced with the dramatic and comic action. Again, the music is the catalyst and whole reason for anything. It is well worth the time to watch. But it never goes over the top, really. There is an English reserve about it. Duh!
Another opera that has a similar type of approach .... though it does go over the top and is more period... is Les Arts Florissants and the Opera National de Paris's production of Rameau's "Les Indes Galantes". Be sure to check it out!
Both these productions give us a taste we can savor of a type of theatre long gone out of fashion... by putting it in a modern style that recaptures the flavor of the old style without copying it."
A voice teacher and early music fan
George Peabody | Planet Earth | 02/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"ANOTHER VIEW OF MICHAEL CHANCE- CAN YOU BELIEVE IT???!!!!
I recently purchased this DVD and watched it last evening and I'm still reacting to it in a very positive way! It was a glorious mixture of art and dance and singing and comedy.
Based on an incident in Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,it is held together with some of the most inspired and beautiful arias penned for the English language. At first one attempts to be logical and follow the "story" which is really not obvious or important. It consists of 9 Masques portraying various scenarios interwoven with the beautiful songs of Purcell sung with much skill and enthusiasm by the chorus as well as the many soloists.
I was delighted by Michael Chance's intermittent roles which fortunately included his uniquely lovely voice. The duet at the beginning of part two featuring Chance (Mopsa) and Jonathan Best (the drunken poet) is absolutely priceless humour. Having followed Chance's career for 20 years I was amazed to see him in a comedy role, and I liked it!
Thomas Randle in the role of Oberon was memorable in his singing as well as his facility to move with grace and ease. Yvonne Kenny as the tyranical Titania was marvelously domineering over a somewhat 'hen-pecked'Oberon. Puck (played by Simon Rice)was very convincing as the chief mischief maker.
I think the entire Opera is great!!!! BUT do not expect to enjoy it unless you have a well-developed sense of humor; for it is tongue-in-cheek humour that is reflected in the scenery, the costuming; even the dance itself; and the music of Purcell suits it very well.The entire production brings alive the splendour of the Baroque for a modern audience."