by Rachel Beaumont

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Pretty much perfect: A Midsummer Night’s Dream at ENO

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
London Coliseum
Stalls F8, £20 (secret seat)
15 March 2018
ENO page

I was disappointed to see ENO abandon its Christopher Alden production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, reviled by all except me, and was prepared to view hiring Robert Carsen’s classic as being a scandalous waste of money. It might still be that, but whichever way you cut it Carsen’s is a completely sound production that tenderly celebrates all that is lovely about this lovely lovely opera. With a good production, good singers and good orchestra, there is a feeling that all that needs to be done is to set things in motion and let the Britten unfurl in its gorgeous way. Challenging it isn’t; delightful it certainly is.

Do I have any complaints? I think Timothy Robinson might enjoy himself a bit too much as Starveling with his obscene crack. Christopher Ainslie as Oberon was a touch on the quiet side, surprising given ENO’s current slew of superstar counter-tenors. The lovers are still the ugly ducklings of the whole event, as they almost always are. Michael Levine and Zeb Lalljee’s otherwise inspired designs I think are a bit much when they get to the wedding celebrations. But otherwise? I think it was pretty much perfect, crowned by Soraya Mafi’s beautiful Tytania.

Special shout-out to Trinity Boys Choir, soloists Aman de Silva, Lucas Rebato, Caspar Burman and Dionysius Sevastakis and music director David Swinson. This opera always makes me marvel at Britten’s writing for children’s voices, but it nevertheless takes good practitioners to set it off so gloriously.

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