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<<  -- 2 --  Robert Hugill    HAUNTINGLY BEAUTIFUL


Into this framework are fitted the various groups of characters. Oberon (Robin Blaze) is resplendent in green silk pajamas, green dressing gown, heavy make-up and green hair. Titania (Sarah Tynan) first appears in a blue silk ball gown, carrying the changeling as a baby, but when retiring she discards the gown to reveal a shortie slip nightdress. Her fairies (all played by members of Trinity Boys Choir) are green and blue clad butlers. The lovers are all in white with costumes of a variety of nineteenth century periods. The mechanicals are all dressed in realistic nineteenth century working men's dress.

Blaze's Oberon is musically distinguished and beautifully understated. Blaze does not try to do too much with the role, but allows his curious appearance, haunting voice and sheer musicality to create a fine, otherworldly presence. It helps that Blaze, like Deller, is a fine Purcellian so that such high-points as 'I know a bank' were beautifully shaped. In the vast cavern that is the Coliseum, there were no audibility problems, but then the role seems to lie well in Blaze's voice, unlike some other counter-tenors that I have heard in the role recently. It is often forgotten that Deller had a low-ish, rather traditional Cathedral male alto range to his voice. In our excitement at discovering other uses for this voice, we are in danger of raising a breed of counter-tenor for whom Oberon is uncomfortably low.

Peter Rose (Bottom as Pyramus) in Britten's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. Photo © 2004 Bill Cooper
Peter Rose (Bottom as Pyramus) in Britten's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. Photo © 2004 Bill Cooper

Sarah Tynan made an attractive figure as Titania. A recent member of the ENO's Young Singers programme, she has the physique to carry off Titania's rather skimpy night attire. But she has a lovely rich voice which encompasses the coloratura of the role and she used it to create a delightfully imperious Titania who fell hilariously and devotedly (and very amorously) in love with Peter Rose's Bottom. As Oberon's side-kick, Puck, Emil Wolk was a mature man rather than a young figure. His Puck was mischievous but devoted to Oberon. He gave the role great physicality, in fact more than Britten probably envisaged as he produced a constant supply of sight gags which I found rather annoying. But he played very freely with the written rhythms of Puck's role and for me the role works best when Britten's rhythms are adhered to.

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Copyright © 15 July 2004 Robert Hugill, London UK


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