Midsummer in Midwinter at the Israel Opera

A Midsummer Night’s Dream/Photo: Liran Levy

You know the play, so now enjoy the opera! The Israel Opera presents A Midsummer Night’s Dream, written and composed by one of the most fruitful, innovative and controversial musical partnerships in the twentieth century: Benjamin Britten and his long-time artistic and romantic partner, Peter Pears.

Just as Shakespeare’s play is a bit eccentric, the opera version is also a wild ride. Britten and Pears made a few unexpected changes in their adaptation of the play, but the general oddness and magical atmosphere remains. This production is helmed by director Ido Ricklin, who we remember from the Israeli operas that premiered in 2015, Schitz and The Lady and the Peddler.

Britten and Pears matched the music to the themes and action of the play. You can hear the differences in the way the music characterizes the lovers, the fairies and the “rustics”. Sections of the music were inspired by past trends in composing, with homages to the English baroque composer Purcell and even a parody of nineteenth-century Italian opera. However, the most interesting musical feature of the opera is that the main character is sung by a countertenor – not a common occurrence in 1960.

We love any production that puts amazing Israeli voices in the spotlight. The singers you’ll hear in this production are a mixture of Israeli baroque and opera stars and expert interpreters from the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand. Yaniv D’Or and Alon Harari, the top two Israeli countertenors of our day, share the role of Oberon. Hila Baggio, fresh from a busy month singing both with the Camerata and the Israel Opera, sings Tytania. We’ll get to hear other familiar voices such as Moran Abouloff, Anat Czarny, Yael Levita, Eitan Drori, Noah Briger, Nofar Yacobi and many more. Among the luminaries visitng us is Scottish tenor Alasdair Elliott. Israeli wunderkind Daniel Cohen and Israeli Opera chorus master Ethan Schmeisser conduct.

For anyone looking for a musical and theatrical experience that’s a little off the Verdi-Puccini beaten track, but still completely user-friendly, A Midsummer Night’s Dream looks promising.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream will open on January 4, 2018 and run through January 17, 2018 at the Israeli Opera. The opera will be sung in English, with English and Hebrew surtitles. Additional details and tickets are available on the Israeli Opera website.

Towards Opening: The creative team of Midsummer Night’s Dream – director Ido Ricklin, conductor Daniel Cohen, and soloists will talk about the production and process of working on the opera. The talk will take place on Saturday, December 30, 2017 at 11:00. Tickets are 70 NIS.

Pre-performance Lecture: There will be a 30-minute introductory lecture in the auditorium one hour before each opera performance. The talk will take place in Hebrew and admission is free for ticket holders.

Pre-performance Backstage Tours: Tours begin 90 minutes before the start of the performance, and last 30 minutes. Tickets are 25 NIS and as space is limited, it is recommended to book in advance. Backstage tours will take place on January 8, 9, 11, and 13, and will begin at 18:30.

Opera Talkback: On January 6, 8, 11, and 13, the audience will have an opportunity to talk with the singers immediately after the performance. Talks take place on the second floor, in the foyer, and last approximately 30 minutes. Admission is free.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream/Photo: Liran Levy