Saturday, April 4, 2009

Let’s Hear From You!

I hope this blog has been a useful tool, these last couple of weeks, for people who want to find out more about Seattle Opera’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But now that we’re down to our last two performances, we’d love to turn things around and hear from you, our audience and readers. We host a post-show Q&A after every performance, and of course lots of people write us letters and emails; but I hope this blog will also become a forum for the audience to express their comments, concerns, and (if I know anything about opera-goers, strong!) opinions.

Mary Potter's painting OPEN WINDOW BY MOONLIGHT from Britten's house in AldeburghDiscussions at our Q&As have touched on subjects such as Peter Kazaras’s choice to set the opera in a classroom instead of an enchanted forest (Kazaras has said his initial inspiration was the image of moonlight at a large casement window); singing Shakespeare, and the various accents prepared by our English diction coach Lynn Baker; auditioning and preparing the children’s chorus; similarities between Britten’s use of the celesta to characterize the spooky Peter Quint in Turn of the Screw, and Oberon in Midsummer; and of course the countertenor voice.

To get you started, here are a few comments about Midsummer passed on to me by a teacher whose students came to the opera:

“My favorite characters were Puck and Bottom.”

“It was nice that this opera was in English, because it was a lot easier to follow.”

“I think English is the worst language for opera.”

“With opera in English, I focus on the words instead of the music.”

“I didn't like Oberon because he wasn't what I had pictured.”

“At first I was a little skeptical about the counter-tenor, but I ended up really liking how it sounded and what it did for the character. If his voice had been low it would have been weird, whereas the high pitch of his voice was very beautiful and fairy-like.”

“The Fairies were awesome, they could really sing, I was impressed. I also liked the part when the faires played instruments.”

“I loved the children’s facial expressions and truthful reaction to the situation with Titania and Bottom as the ass.”

“I hated the school setting with a passion.”

“Grouping the students as one age and the teachers another, and representing Oberon and Titania as the older upperclassmen, was genius. I really enjoyed this unique interpretation.”

“It was confusing to hear the singers talk about being in the forest while they were actually in a building.”

“The only part that did not seem to fit with the school set was Bottom turning into the donkey; I didn't understand quite what a donkey had to do with a school, but it was a dream, so I suppose that could be rational in a dream.”

“All of the characters seemed to be trying too hard to be as modern as possible, when the dialogue and story is much older. I found myself having to translate the characters in the opera into who they were supposed to be in the play to follow along. However, I did feel that Oberon was mystical, serious, but with a bit of strangeness, and seemed to fit more into the time period of the original play.”

“The reason I liked the school as a setting was because everytime a fairy or mythical creature entered it was either through the closet door or through a window, and whenever a mortal entered the setting it was through one of the main doors.”

“I enjoyed the blunt humor incorporated into the opera; however, I didn't find the drunken wall as funny as everyone else did.”

“I really liked how this opera made obvious all the perverse things in the play: Oberon's obsession with the little boy, and Tytania's relationship with a donkey.”