A Midsummer Night’s Dream begins this week

A new production of Benjamin Britten’s atmospheric A Midsummer Night’s Dream opens with three performances at Theatre Royal Glasgow this week.

Directed by Dominic Hill, artistic director of Citizens Theatre, it opens on Tuesday, February 22, before transferring to Festival Theatre Edinburgh for a further three performances. This show was originally due to be performed in March 2020.

Dominic, who last directed Verdi’s Macbeth for Scottish Opera in 2014, returns to the Company to bring his Shakespearean expertise in the telling of this tale of four lovers lost in the woods, fairies, magic and comedy, in an otherworldly mix of imagination and reality.

Scottish Opera music director Stuart Stratford conducts a dynamic cast that includes Scottish Opera Emerging Artist, Catriona Hewitson as Tytania, widely praised for her performances in the Company’s recent productions of The Gondoliers, Utopia, Limited, Così fan tutte and L’elisir d’amore, and David Shipley (Rigoletto 2018), as Bottom, alongside internationally acclaimed countertenor Lawrence Zazzo as Oberon.

Michael Guest (Puck) with the children’s chorus in Scottish Opera’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Photo: James Glossop)

Also in the cast are Scottish tenor and broadcaster, Jamie MacDougall (Falstaff 2021); former Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Elgan Llŷr Thomas (Falstaff 2021); Dingle Yandell (Tosca 2019); Jonathan McGovern (The Telephone 2020) and 2021/22 Emerging Artists, Lea Shaw (Opera Highlights 2021) and Glen Cunningham (Utopia, Limited 2021). They are joined by a children’s chorus, who range in age from nine to 13, and are from all over Scotland, including Glasgow, the Borders and Fife.

Set in a post-war world, designs for the production are by Tom Piper, famed for the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at the Tower of London. It also features puppetry by Rachael Canning, an award-winning set, costume and puppetry designer/ director for theatre, who has previously worked with companies including Citizens Theatre, Northern Ballet and The Globe Theatre.

Director Dominic Hill said: ‘We were all devastated to have to stop rehearsals for this production, so I am delighted to be able to return to this wonderful opera to finally bring it to the stage. We discovered such joy, playfulness and passion in rehearsals last year which I hope with our wonderful new cast will allow us to finish the journey.’

Scottish Opera Music Director Stuart Stratford added: ‘From the glistening glissandi of the strings to the pungent aroma of the solo trombone, it is easy to understand why A Midsummer Night’s Dream is viewed as a masterclass in orchestration and economy of gesture.

Lea Shaw (Hermia) and Elgan Llŷr Thomas (Lysander) (Photo: James Glossop)

‘With such minimal material, Britten can summon the mystery of the forest, effortlessly transition into the magic realm of Oberon and then collapse into the bustle and organised chaos of the amateur players. All of the vocal writing is exquisitely crafted, and it is true to say that the score is held dear by all those who have the fortune to bring this life affirming comedy to the stage.’

Audience members with a visual impairment can enjoy the full opera experience at audio-described performances, which have a live commentary describing the action on stage without compromising the music.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is supported by Scottish Opera’s Alexander Gibson Circle.

Find out more at www.scottishopera.org.uk