Sunday, 12 July 2009

The Fairy Queen at Glyndebourne

An overwhelming and, amazingly, coherent production of this opulent semi-opera sprawl. The Fairy Opera is A Midsummer Night's Dream with illuminating musical interludes - masques - interpolated. These are sung by a small cast alien to the play and the chorus is joined by a dance troupe (making this the second GFO production with a significant dance investment, alongside Guilio Cesare). The singing is good. Carolyn Sampson's often reflective character stands out where the more narrative voices of Lucy Crowe, Ed Lyon and Andrew Foster-Williams seem entirely in control of the staging blancmange going on around them.

Blancmange? How about sherry trifle prepared in a paddling pool. Even by Glyndebourne's standards, this production of The Fairy Queen is opulent. Each change of scene ushers in what seems to be a completely new set. The most striking sequence of the evening lasts little longer than two minutes in which the entire cast come on stage in full rabbit costume to fornicate and then run off again. Interestingly, one could argue that a money-no-object approach to producing this piece is period practice, given that such a tableau-work would have been created with exactly this treatment in mind. It's an overwhelming experience in many ways and some take care of the 'not all'.

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