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Student’s report on the operatic version of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

13 January 2016

On Saturday 28th November, a group of IIL students, teachers and parents met in the foyer of the impressive surroundings of the Grand Théâtre de Genève to experience a quite different operatic version of Shakespeare’s play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. 

Sung in English, with subtitles in English and French, and with music provided by the Orchestre De La Suisse Romande and singers from La Maîtrise du Conservatoire populaire de musique de Genève, this operatic performance, based on Shakespeare’s most popular comedy, was composed by Benjamin Britten and first performed in 1960.

As the curtains rolled back an interesting, yet graphic, display of a woman’s nude body covering the whole stage was revealed. This set, representing Mother Nature, provided the backdrop for the adventures of four young lovers and a group of amateur actors and their interactions with woodland fairies and a duke and duchess.

Fantastical costumes glittered, choreography was impressive, lighting provided the perfect ambiance for an enchanted forest and there were even some thrilling moments when characters suspended by wires ‘flew’ across the stage.

At first, we weren’t sure how this Shakespeare comedy was going to translate from play into opera.  We all agreed after that the plot had been complicated and hard to follow at times (I hadn’t read the play previously). Also the delivery of Shakespeare’s rhyming couplets through song made the Shakepearian language even harder to follow than usual.

However, our lasting impression was that the performance had been magical, mystical and memorable and that we were very privileged to have been able to experience it.

Nicolas, Year 10




Picture : Genève, Switzerland : Grand Théâtre (Opera House), Andreas Praefcke, Wikimedia Commons