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Notes and Editorial Reviews
This performance is sheer delight. Britten's conducting, more than anyone else's, conveys the sinister strata in the score which underlie the comic and fantastic. Elizabeth Harwood's Tytania is a lovely performance, both warm and unearthly.
If I had to name Britten's greatest opera, I should still hover between three, finally (I think) opting for Billy Budd. But I would have no hesitation in selecting A Midsummer Night's Dream as the one I enjoy most, even more than Albert Herring. As a successful operatic version of Shakespeare it ranks with Verdi. Why no one recorded the magical Glyndebourne production I shall never understand. But Britten's own performance, recorded in 1966, is sheer delight. His conducting, more
than anyone else's conveys the sinister strata in the score which underlie the comic and fantastic.
Alfred Deller's unmatched Oberon, Owen Brannigan's Bottom, Thomas Hemsley's Demetrius, Norman Lumsden's Quince and David Kelly's Snug are the only survivors on record from the 1960 first performances. Sir Peter Pears sang Flute then but moved to Lysander on record, a pity, I think, for his comic impersonations were at once subtle and funny. Elizabeth Harwood's Tytania is a lovely performance, both warm and unearthly.
-- Gramophone [5/1990]
Works on This Recording
A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 64 by Benjamin Britten
John Shirley-Quirk (Bass Baritone),
Stephen Terry (Boy Soprano),
Elizabeth Harwood (Soprano),
Helen Watts (Alto),
Owen Brannigan (Baritone),
Norman Lumsden (Voice),
Kenneth MacDonald (),
David [bass baritone] Kelly (),
Keith Raggett (Voice),
Richard Dakin (Voice),
John Pryer (Voice),
Heather Harper (Soprano),
Josephine Veasey (Mezzo Soprano),
Thomas Hemsley (Baritone),
Peter Pears (Tenor),
Ian Wodehouse (Voice),
Gordon Clark (Voice),
Eric Alder (Voice),
Alfred Deller (Countertenor),
Robert Tear (Tenor)
London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1960; England
Date of Recording: 1966
Venue: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London
Length: 144 Minutes 12 Secs.
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
An intriguing and excellent opera October 24, 2013
By Dr. Stephen Schoeman (Westfield, NJ) See All My Reviews
"Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream is based on Shakespeare's work by the same name but, of course, set to music. And what music at that! The opera grows on you as it proceeds so that the final act with that play within a play is a sheer delight. A reminiscence of something Rossini or Mozart might have composed. There is the considerably added delight in the composer himself conducting this excellent performance! Perhaps made excellent because he conducted it! Think of what riches would have been uncovered had we recordings of Beethoven or Mozart or Haydn or Tchaikovsky or Massenet or Berlioz among others conducting their own works! Stephen Schoeman, Ph. D."