Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Penelope Walker, Andrew Gallacher, John Graham Hall|
Britten: A Midsummer Night's Dream
The best version for dramatic excitement
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 11/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 1993 studio recording derives from a stage production, and it shows. The singers are dramatically more convincing than even the excellent cast assembled for the competing versions under Colin Davis (pilips) and the composer (Decca). The urgent, exciting pacing is much more gripping than Davis's carefully considered, measured account. All three condcutors are masterful at the technical level, and anyone who loves Midsummer Night's Dream could be well satisfied with any of the available sets.
I own all three, and if I had to keep only one, it would be the Hickox. Britten's version feels as if the music hadn't yet found its dramatic footing -- I don't sense that these voices stand for real Shakespearean characters. Colin Davis's cast seems a bit studio bound, and the two leads, Sylvia McNair's Tytania and Brian Azawa's Oberon, are too concerned with vocal beauty to argue, fret, and scheme convincingly (Azawa in particular is too feminine-sounding, and Oberon must manage to be every inch a proud king even though he sings in a high register). James Bowman was a famous Oberon on stage, and we are lucky that the microphones caught his portrayal, even though he was two decades past his debut. The roughness in his boice actually addds to his authority. In addition, the four lovers sound genuinely infauated and expaserateed by turns. Finally, the spoken part of PUck is done in straightforward fashion, which I prefer to Davis's adolescent Cockney.
Amazon reviewers aren't paying much attention to Britten's Shakespeare opera, but it is one of his greatest accomplishments and grows in stature the more you listen to it."
A gorgeous opera
Sarah Olivia | United States | 06/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I seem to love Balanchine's ballet and Britten's opera of Midsummer's Night's Dream more than the play itself. I bought this C.D. over a decade ago as part of the works studied in a music history class. The instructor chose this opera b/c the voice students were performing it that semester (and countertenor David Daniels, before he hit the big time, was Oberon).
I love the glissandos of the strings that act almost as a "leitmotif," indicating the ethereal world of the fairies. Britten uses a nice balance of tonality and atonality that suits Shakespeare's dreamscape. One of my favorite parts in this opera is the quartet of the lovers, "And I have loved Lysander like a Jewel, my own and not my own..." The voices overlap as each lover stakes his or her claim on the beloved.
Jill Gomez' voice is intoxicatingly gorgeous and has a similar tone quality to Kiri Te Kanawa's lush soprano. She sings Helena and is a standout in an already outstanding production.
Unfortunately, my two Midsummer Night's Dream C.D.s have acquired a fair number of scratches over the last ten years, and some sound systems are less forgiving than others. (One of these days I'll break down and buy something to treat all my C.D.s that are scratched.)