The Fairy Queen, by Henry Purcell, Glyndebourne Festival (Wednesday July 25).
“IT’S LIKE a Flaming Lips concert!” exclaimed my boyfriend as red heart-shaped confetti fluttered down into the audience at the end of the Fairy Queen.
And the similarities between experiencing a gig from the mad cap American band and Henry Purcell’s opera didn’t stop there.
Famed for releasing balloons into the audience and using puppets, the Flaming Lips would have approved of the 50odd people dressed up in giant rabbit outfits, busily copulating on stage, representing the season of spring.
During the interval some of the rabbits, who looked a bit like giant Duracell bunnies, were meeting and greeting the audience in the beautiful sun drenched grounds of the country house.
And there were more unusual elements in the semi opera too: Titania was cocooned and raised up to the roof, black winged fairies emerged from cupboards, Bottom and Titania sailed in a boat and a man representing the sun descended from the heavens singing, while straddled on a white horse and opera singers dressed up to represent the seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter, sang beautifully and hauntingly too.
Semi opera means there’s a mixture between singing and dialogue, and so it was we were treated to what must be one of the best and most cultural combinations that exists: opera and Shakespeare.
And we both decided: we absolutely loved it.
The Fairy Queen is based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Shakespeare’s words and musical interludes.
The actors delivered their lines with flair and excellent comic timing.
You might not expect opera to be funny, but it was frequently, and had the whole audience chortling away.
The music, by Purcell, first performed in 1692, was lovely, with lots of Baroque harpsichord, a full chorus and some tip top soloists.
It was music so beautiful it took your breath away and as always the costumes and sets were awe inspiring.
I think this was my favourite opera I have ever seen and I definitely want to see more of the winning combination of Shakespeare and opera!
The Fairy Queen finishes on August 26.