‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the Israeli Opera.
(photo credit: LIRAN LEVY)
Midsummer Night’s Dream, not by Mendelssohn but by Benjamin Britten, was presumably performed by the Israeli Opera to warm up the stormy Israeli winter.
Although the performance of a little- known work is a laudable initiative, it seems that Britten’s serious and tragic masterpieces, such as his War Requiem or The Turn of the Screw, are more impressive, intensely self-identified and apt to cause sleepless nights than his comic opera. His humor seems forced, artificial and premeditated. Though the performance was polished and proceeded smartly, its attempts at humor often became tedious as the show dragged on.
Director Ido Ricklin and set designer Alexander Lisianski’s video screenings on the back of the stage represented old-fashioned modernism, often more confusing than amusing, with not particularly relevant allusions to Hollywood, and filming on the stage. Bottom and Titania’s love scene was a highlight of the performance’s humor. Musical humor was expressed often by a generous use of percussion and brass instruments, provided by the highly dramatic sounding Symphony Orchestra Rishon Lezion, conducted by Daniel Cohen.
The cast maintained a generally high level of performance. Counter-tenor Yaniv D’Or as Oberon, soprano Hilla Baggio as Titania, tenor Jason Bridges as Lysander, baritone Ross Rambogon as Demetrius, soprano Yael Levita as Helena and mezzo-soprano Anat Czarny as Hernia did their very best to sing and act faithfully to their roles.
The mumbled English pronunciation of many singers, however, rendered their texts unintelligible.
Britten, for reasons of his own, omitted Puck’s concluding moral of Shakespeare’s play: “Lord, what fools ye mortals be.”