(Colin Davis and London Symphony Orchestra, Philips 454 122-2)
By opening his opera with that music, and taking us immediately into that magical forest, Britten turns Shakespeare's there-and-back-again journey inside out. Britten's is a post-Freudian Dream, where the unconscious world is in the foreground. All his operas criss-cross some boundary between two worlds: the ship and the sea, in Billy Budd, or the living and the dead, in Turn of the Screw. In Midsummer Night's Dream, we emerge from the dream-world of the forest only for the final scene at the court of Theseus; and even that scene concludes, when all the mortals have gone to bed, with the return of the fairies, who scatter dust, magic, dreams, and benedictions throughout the house.