Ryan Belongie (Oberon) and Alexander Strain (Puck) in
A Midsummer Night's Dream (photo by Kim Pensinger Witman
for the Wolf Trap Opera Company) -- More photos
Although it seems a little surprising to me, some people are still put off by Britten's harmonic and melodic style: at the end of the first act, which is heavy on Oberon's menace, a large portion of the audience got in their cars and drove away. This is a shame, because by the third act the opera becomes a rollicking farce with the performance of the "rude mechanicals," costumed in this production (directed by Patrick Diamond, costumes designed by Camille Assaf) as a highway construction crew in reflective vests and overalls. The concept included a mullet for Nicholas Masters's Bottom, played as the paragon of inept vanity, which required only a large pair of ears for him to be transformed into an ass. Among the group of six, the full low range of Kenneth Kellogg as Quince stood out, as did the cross-dressed hilarity of David Portillo's Flute, complete with voice cracks as he tested out his feminine range (Peter Pears, who created the role, would have been proud). Nathaniel Peake should win some sort of versatility award, having switched gears from the sadistic Soliman in Zaide to the hapless Snout, whose blithely tone-deaf performance as the Wall in the Act 3 play brought down the house.
Britten, A Midsummer Night's Dream, F. Lott, I. Cotrubas,
J. Bowman, Glyndebourne Opera,
Joan Reinthaler, Wolf Trap's "Midsummer Night's Dream" is a light, fun frolic (Washington Post, August 16)
Terry Ponick, Spend your 'Midsummer Night' at Wolf Trap's Barns (Washington Times, August 17)
This production of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream will be repeated once more, on Tuesday night (August 17, 8 pm), in the Barns at Wolf Trap.