OPERA PHILADELPHIA presents
A MIDSUMMER NIGHTâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S DREAM
FINAL DRESS REHEARSAL F E B R U A R Y 6 , 2 019 | 2 : 0 0 P. M . ACADEMY OF MUSIC
WELCOME Welcome to Opera Philadelphia. We are so glad that you will soon be joining us at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music for the final dress rehearsal of Benjamin Britten's opera A Midsummer Night's Dream. Whether this is your first time attending an opera or your hundredth, we are so excited to have you. Seeing an opera can be a thrilling experience as it tells stories using all of the art forms – music, dance, theater, visual art, and more. While the music and text of opera may have been written centuries ago, the stories are still meaningful today. We hope this guide will allow you to connect with opera and A Midsummer Night's Dream. How might a character in Midsummer relate to you or to a person in your own life? What similarities or differences are there? In what ways can you see yourself being a part of opera – whether it be on stage or off ? Your unique experience is important to us and is likely to be different from that of your friends, classmates, and teachers. That’s okay! How great is it that we can all have different feelings and opinions about the same piece of art? When you return to school, consider sparking conversations with your classmates about the opera. Opera can be dynamic and engaging but also complex and confusing. Unpacking what you’ve just seen and hearing from others is a great way to appreciate opera even more. As you find your seat in the Academy of Music, remember that this historic theater is a part of your community and there for you. You have the right to enjoy opera and to take in all it has to offer. In the end, we’ll know that we have done our job if you leave feeling both inspired and full of self-discovery. Welcome to our family.
G O A L S A N D O B J E C T I V E S of Sounds of Learning D ress Rehearsal P rog ram Connect with the plot or themes
Connect something from your exploration of opera to your own personal stories
Draw conclusions about the effectiveness of the story presentation
Experience the opera with an open mind
Analyze, synthesize, and evaluate what you have learned or experienced during the challenge
Use the Sounds of Learning blog to reflect on your experience and provide insights about your journey
Best Practices in Arts Education is sponsored by Pennsylvania Alliance for Arts Education, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Pennsylvania Department of Education
TA B L E O F Contents O P E R A 101 Defining Opera Throughout History 2 Philadelphia's Academy of Music 4 Opera Etiquette 5 Operatic Voice Types 6 The Language of Opera 8
H I ST O R I C A L C O N T E X T The Men Behind the Text: William Shakespeare and Peter Pears The Man Behind the Music: Benjamin Britten Britain in the Times of Shakespeare and Britten What in the World?: Events During Britten's Life
9 10 12 14
L I B R E T T O & P R O D U C T I O N I N F O R M AT I O N A Midsummer Night's Dream: Cast and Creative Team 16 A Midsummer Night's Dream: Synopsis 18 Character Descriptions: Who's Who 19 A Midsummer Night's Dream: Libretto 20
CLASSROOM ARTICLES Shakespeare's Fairies: From Devilish to Dainty 46 "One of this Confederacy": Reconsidering Athenian Stage Commentary 48 Acting the Story Using Tableaus 50 Writing a Review of the Opera 51 Glossary 50
DEFINING OPERA Throughout Histor y Opera has been called the greatest of all art forms. Why? Operas like Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream bring all the arts together to tell stories in incredibly moving ways—stories that have been a reflection of the time and of the people throughout history. The oldest opera still performed today is Claudio Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, written in 1607. During the Baroque period from 1600-1750, Italian aristocracy wanted to recreate the great classical dramas from ancient Greece and Rome. Such stories provided the ruling elite with a strong connection to the supernatural. When asked to write an opera for Grand Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga of Mantua, Monteverdi thought that Orpheus, the Greek hero of music, would be of great interest to his audience. Monteverdi's opera brought to life Orpheus’s dramatic journey to the underworld in an effort to save his love, Euridice. The premiere of L'Orfeo was a great success, and Monteverdi emerged as someone who could use music to propel not only a narrative but also deeply affect an audience. While Monteverdi got his start composing opera for the ruling elite, he also helped bring opera to the public. Opera’s emotional stories created a frenzy in Venice, Italy, towards the middle of the 17th century. No fewer than nine public opera houses opened during this period as the public wanted more opera that reflected the culture of the time. Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea (1642) is a great example of this change. Poppea tells the story of one of Rome’s most evil rulers, Emperor Nero, and his love affair with Poppea, his ambitious mistress. Monteverdi’s opera premiered in Venice, and Poppea’s sensational and bawdy story perfectly matched Venetian interests while creating a gripping and emotional drama.
Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro shocked 18th century audiences when the servants Figaro and Susanna (pictured above) turn the tables on the aristocracy. Photo: Kelly & Massa Photography
The 18th century, known as the Age of Enlightenment, was the next great period of political and cultural change in Europe. People were talking about new forms of government and organization in society, especially the developing middle class. As society changed, so did opera. Composers felt the need to reform opera and move away from the complexity of the Baroque style and wanted to instead write music that was simpler and more focused on pure, raw emotion. Christoph Willibald Gluck was one of the first to achieve this with his opera Orfeo and Euridice (1762). Gluck’s music had a freedom that evoked the unaffected expression of human feelings. While Gluck's opera told the same story as Monteverdi's L’Orfeo, his music brought new life to the narrative that better reflected audiences’ tastes at the time. The later part of the 18th century marked a period of great revolt. In 1776, the American Revolution changed the world. A few years later, the French had their own revolution (1789)
The Marriage of Figaro
The Barber of Seville
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
and the first modern democracies were born. Reflecting this new way of thinking, audiences wanted to see characters like themselves on stage. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (1786) did just that. It told a story about aristocratic class struggle that had both servants and nobility in leading roles. With the characters of Figaro and Susanna, Mozart gave opera relatable human beings. Mozart’s operas embody the tenets of the Enlightenment such as equality, freedom, and the importance of the lower classes. In the 1800s, Italian opera developed further with the bel canto movement, which means “beautiful singing.” Opera continued to be about real stories and achieving honesty in expression. The most famous bel canto composers were Gioachino Rossini (1792–1868), Gaetano Donizetti (1797–1848), and Vincenzo Bellini (1801–1835). The success of these composers can be measured in their ability to withstand the test of time. Rossini’s popular comedies, The Barber of Seville (1816) and Cinderella (1817), are still some of the most popular operas performed today. By the middle of the 19th century, the Romantic Movement led many composers to champion their own national identities. Composers and librettists created operas for the audiences they knew best. Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi continued to develop the bel canto style of his predecessors and became a national hero by using nationalism in his operas like Nabucco (1842) to promote the cause of Italian unification. German operas like Carl Maria von Weber’s Der Freischütz (1821), Russian operas like Mikhail Glinka's A Life for the Tsar (1836), and French operas like Giacomo Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots (1836) were performed frequently in their native countries. In Germany, Richard Wagner brought the Romantic period to its peak by exploiting the grand potential of opera. How could all of the elements - orchestra, set, chorus, soloists, and more - be elevated to transform a story and
deeply affect an audience? In The Ring of the Nibelung (1876), a series of four operas taking over 15 hours to perform, Wagner created one of opera’s greatest masterpieces. Opera in the 20th century emerged as a period of great experimentation. Composers like Giacomo Puccini (La bohéme, 1896), Richard Strauss (Salome, 1905) and Benjamin Britten (Peter Grimes, 1945) continued to evolve their national styles. Others, horrified by the destruction of World War I (1914-1918) and other aspects of modern life, created music that was new and drastically inharmonious. Meanwhile, American opera had a huge hit with George and Ira Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (1935) which included the musical styles of jazz and blues.
Five Philadelphia youth are portrayed in Daniel Bernard Roumain's 2017 opera We Shall Not Be Moved. Photo: Dave DiRentis
Today, opera continues to grow and expand. Opera Philadelphia helps to shape the future of opera by producing important new works like Daniel Bernard Roumain and Marc Bamuthi Joseph's 2017 opera, We Shall Not Be Moved, a story about Philadelphia youth and many of the issues facing society today. In October 2017, the opera went on to be performed at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem. In September of 2018, it also took to the big screen for Opera on the Mall and was broadcast across Independence Mall.
Porgy and Bess
We Shall Not Be Moved
George and Ira Gershwin
Daniel Bernard Roumain
P H I L A D E L P H I A’S AC A D E M Y O F M U S I C A place for you
Photo: George Widman
Opera Philadelphia's home, the Academy of Music, opened in 1857. Opera is only one type of performance that takes place in the Academy. There are also ballets, concerts, and galas. The building is a historical monument and the oldest grand opera house in America still used for its original purpose. The Academy of Music is sometimes called the "The Grand Old Lady of Locust Street." The opera house was initially built with a plain white exterior because the architects wanted the beauty to be on the interior, as it was at the famous opera house, La Scala, in Italy. Later, the exterior was revised to look as it does today. Unlike other performance houses, the Academy of Music's seating has a 'U' shape. This was for the audience to have the best view from every angle possible. The first opera presented in the brand new opera house was Giuseppe Verdi’s Il trovatore on February 25, 1857. The basement of the Academy of Music has a history, too. It was used as a dining hall because of its beautiful interior decoration. During World War II the hall was transformed into the Stage Door Canteen, serving refreshments and featuring appearances by entertainers performing 4
at the Academy of Music, such as Abbott and Costello, Duke Ellington, and Frank Sinatra. Today, the Academy of Music continues to entertain people through concerts, operas, ballets, and more. The wondrous hall dedicated to the arts has blossomed into the perfect place for a performance of any kind. Academy of Music Facts: The auditorium seats 2,509 14 columns support the Academy’s tiers. The red and gold pattern on the Academy’s stage curtain simulates a pineapple, a Victorian-era symbol for “welcome.” • The first-ever indoor football game was held on the Academy’s Parquet level on March 7, 1889, between the University of Pennsylvania and Riverton Club of Princeton. • 1,600 people attended the first-ever public motion picture screening on February 5, 1870. • • •
OPERA Etiquette AT T E N DI NG T H E OPE R A There’s nothing as exciting as seeing a performance in Philadelphia’s beautiful Academy of Music. If this is your first time at the opera, there are a few things for which you should prepare: You are attending the opera’s final dress rehearsal, the last chance for performers to run through the show before opening night. The goal is to treat this rehearsal exactly like a performance and perform the opera straight through without a pause. You may notice several computer monitors and large tables spread out over the seats in the center of the first f loor of the auditorium. Seated in this area is the production team: Director, Assistant Director, Costume Designer, Lighting Designer, Set Designer, and others. They’ll take notes and communicate via headsets with the many people backstage who help make all of the operatic magic happen: Stage Managers, Master Carpenter, Lighting Technicians, Stagehands, and others. They’ll be able to give notes so that changes can be instantly made. Should things go wrong, they may stop and repeat a section to make sure that it is perfect. OPER A E T IQU E T T E 101 Opera singers are unique because they are trained to sing without microphones. As a result, it is important to remain quiet, listen carefully, and not interfere with the music. With this in mind, remember that at the heart of opera is a story rooted in deep emotion. So, when the time is right, don't be afraid to laugh or extend your appreciation through applause! Performers need to know how their work is being appreciated. In addition to showing respect to the people around you, it is important to appreciate the physical theater. Many opera houses or theaters are designated as historic monuments. So that we can continue to use these cherished spaces, we
Students from the Penn Alexander School prepare to see the f inal dress rehearsal of Mozart's The Magic Flute. Photo: Kelly & Massa Photography
must remember to leave them the way they were found. This means keeping your feet on the f loor as opposed to on the back of the seat in front of you. In addition, any food or beverage must remain outside of the theater. Finally, you may be asking yourself what to wear to an opera. This answer can vary from person to person. Ultimately, you should not feel as if you will be turned away because of your attire. However, dressing up for the opera is a classic tradition, so don't hesitate to show off your best new tie or your favorite dress. The way you dress and carry yourself can only add to the opera experience. Please Do... • Applaud after the arias; you can shout “Bravo!” for men and “Brava!” for the women. • Use the bathrooms before the rehearsal begins or at intermission. • Be careful in the auditorium! Theaters can sometimes be old and difficult to navigate. • Turn off your cell phones and all electronic devices. • Obey all directions given by theater ushers and staff. Please Don't... • No food, gum, or beverages are permitted inside the theater. • No photographs or videos may be taken during the performance. • No talking or whispering during the performance. 5
O P E R AT I C Vo i c e Ty p e s Have you ever wondered why every person's voice sounds slightly different? The human voice is a fascinating and complex instrument with many factors that make each one of us sound unique. The length, strength, and the thickness of the vocal chords, the shape of the nasal passages, mouth, and throat all help to determine whether a voice will be high or low, bright or warm. In opera, voices are classified into seven main categories (from highest to lowest): soprano, mezzosoprano, contralto, countertenor, tenor, baritone, and bass. It is important to know that a person can only know their true voice type when they become an adult. The following people have distinguished themselves as past and present leaders of their voice type. Choose one opera singer to research and share your discoveries with your friends. Use the QR Codes and social media tags to hear each voice type and learn more about a few of these artists.
S O P R A N O is the highest female voice type, with a traditional range of A below middle C to the C two octaves above that. The soprano usually plays the heroine of the story and is often the center of the romantic storyline.
Brenda Rae soprano
Ying Fang soprano
M E Z Z O - S O P R A N O is slightly lower than soprano, with a range usually G below middle C to the Bb two octaves above. Mezzos are often supporting roles, playing motherly types or villains. They also often sing trouser roles in which they portray boys or young men.
Daniela Mack mezzo-soprano
C O N T R A L T O is the lowest female voice, with a range of the F below middle C to the second G above middle C. It is a rare voice type, so the roles can often be sung by mezzo-sopranos. It is the darkest in timbre and is reserved for specialty roles, such as grandmothers, noble witches, and goddesses. 6
Marietta Simpson mezzo-soprano
Marian Anderson contralto
Meredith Arwady contralto
Tim Mead countertenor
John Holiday countertenor
C O U N T E R T E N O R is the highest male voice, with a range that is similar to the contralto: a below middle C to the F an octave and a half above middle C. Frequently these men achieve their high range through bridging their chest voice with their head voice (falsetto). While this voice type was less popular from 1800-1940, composers today utilize countertenors more often.
T E N O R is considered the highest “natural” male voice, with a range of D below middle C to the C above middle C. Beginning in the Classical era (1775-1825), the tenor has been assigned the role of the hero or the love interest of the story.
Lawrence Brownlee tenor
Troy Cook baritone
Will Liverman baritone
Michael Spyres tenor
B A R I T O N E is the most common male voice type, with a range midway between tenor and bass, from A an octave below middle C to the G above middle C. The baritone is often the comical leader, but can also be the villain who stands in the way of the soprano and tenor’s love.
B A S S is the lowest and darkest of the male voices, with a range of E almost two octaves below middle C to the F above middle C. Basses can portray characters who convey wisdom or nobility, but also comedic characters. @mdrbass
Christian Van Horn bass
Photo Credit: Brenda Rae - Kristin Hoebermann, Ying Fang; Daniela Mack - Simon Pauly; Marietta Simpson - JR Simpson Photography; John Holiday - Fay Fox; Lawrence Brownlee - Ken Howard; Troy Cook - Arielle Doneson; Will Liverman - Larrynx Photography; Christian Van Horn, Morris Robinson - Ron Cadiz
Morris Robinson bass
THE LANGUAGE OF Opera AC T ARIA BALLET BLOCKING CHORUS CON DUC TOR DUET DR A M AT U RG LIBRET TO ORCH E S T R A OV E R T U R E R E C I TAT I V E SCENE
main sections of a play or opera a solo song sung in an opera dance set to music action on stage usic composed for a group of singers; the name of a group of m singers in an opera person who rehearses and leads the orchestra a song performed by two singers a specialist in drama, especially one who acts as a consultant to a theater company, advising them on possible repertory the text or words in an opera; an operaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s script a group of musicians who play together on various musical instruments a piece of instrumental music played at the beginning of an opera words that are sung in the rhythm of natural speech a sequence of continuous actions
Lawrence Brownlee, tenor, performs the title role in Charlie Parker's YARDBIRD. After its 2015 World Premiere with Opera Philadelphia, the opera traveled to Harlem and graced the stage of the historic Apollo Theater. It has since been performed at Madison Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Atlanta Opera. Photo: Sof ia Negron
THE MEN BEHIND THE TEXT W illiam Shakespeare and Peter Pears and three narrative poems. He wrote poetry during outbreaks of the plague (1665-1666) when the theaters in London were closed.
The exact date of William Shakespeare's birth remains unknown, but records show his baptism was on April 26, 1564. Shakespeare's father was a leather glove maker and a prominent official in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon. His mother was the daughter of a wealthy landowner. In school, Shakespeare probably studied Latin, classical texts, and basic arithmetic. When Shakespeare was 18, he married Anne Hathaway. At the time, Anne was 26 and already pregnant with their first child, Susanna. The couple also had twins, Hamnet and Judith. Hamnet died at the age of 11. The period between 1585 and 1592 is known as the "lost years" because there is little record of what happened to Shakespeare during this time. By the early 1590s, he was already successful as an actor and playwright, dividing his time between London and Stratfordupon-Avon. He founded an acting company called the King's Men and also co-owned several of the leading theaters in London. He grew quite wealthy from the business, and his family lived in the largest home in Stratford-upon-Avon. Historians agree that Shakespeare wrote or collaborated on 38 plays. He wrote histories, comedies, and tragedies in the early part of his career. In his later years, he wrote romances and tragicomedies that blended elements of several genres. Only half of his plays were published during his lifetime, but his colleagues published 36 of his 38 plays in what is known as the "First Folio" in 1623. Shakespeare also wrote over 150 sonnets
Shakespeare's stories are the basis of numerous operas: Hector Berlioz's Beatrice and Benedict is based on Much Ado About Nothing, Ralph Vaughan Williams' Sir John in Love is based on The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Giuseppe Verdi's Othello and Macbeth are based on the plays by the same name. Romeo and Juliet alone has inspired 25 operas. For A Midsummer Night's Dream, that number is even higher at 48. Shakespeare's stories have also inspired numerous ballets, films, and songs. In 1610, Shakespeare retired to his home in the countryside and died six years later. To this day, his works continue to influence literature, music, culture, and even the language we use today.
P E T E R P E A R S (19 10 -19 8 6 ) Peter Pears was a tenor and organist born in 1910 in Farnham, England. After initially being denied admission to a music school because of his small voice, he went on to study singing at the Royal College of Music. When he met Benjamin Britten in 1934, Pears was working as part of the BBC Singers. The two became friends a few years later and gave their first concert in 1937, with Pears singing and Britten at the piano. From then on, they worked as a very successful performance team and were lifelong romantic partners. Pears was an inspiration for much of Britten's vocal music. Pears also developed an excellent solo career as a singer of art song (songs typically set to a poem), and oratorio (large-scale works for orchestra and choir). He is buried next to Britten's grave in Aldeburgh, England.
THE MAN BEHIND THE MUSIC Benjamin Britten most influential figure in Britten’s life. The two worked closely together on numerous works, including the libretto for the operatic adaptation of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night’s Dream. While the pair shortened the play to about half its length, the libretto remains faithful to Shakespeare; only one line in the opera is not from the original play.
One of the most famous English composers of the 20th century, Benjamin Britten is especially known for his vocal and operatic music. Britten’s operas were the first internationally acclaimed operas written by an English composer since those of Henry Purcell in the seventeenth century. He paid tribute to his heritage by referencing compositional techniques of Purcell and the English compositional style. He also integrated European compositional techniques into his work, creating a new style that was consciously rooted in history and tradition. Benjamin Britten was born on November 22, 1913, in Lowestoft, Suffolk, which is on the east coast of the United Kingdom and approximately three hours from London by car. The youngest of four children, he was the son of a dentist father and a talented amateur singer mother. Britten took viola and piano lessons as a child and displayed remarkable musical talent from a young age. His mother especially encouraged his love of music, hoping he would join the ranks of J.S. Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Johannes Brahms as the ‘fourth B.’ Britten began private composition lessons in 1927 with the respected composer Frank Bridge. As a young adult, he continued his training at the Royal College of Music, London beginning in 1930. There, he was inspired by performances of works by Dimitri Shostakovitch who would later become his friend.
In 1937, Britten met Peter Pears, a tenor who would become his life-long musical collaborator and romantic partner. Pears would become the
As Great Britain prepared to enter World War II, living in Europe became increasingly difficult for Britten and Pears, who were strong pacifists, or peacemakers. True to his beliefs, Britten composed many works to promote peace throughout his life including his Pacif ist March, Sinfonia, and War Requiem. To escape the impending war and broaden their musical horizons, Britten and Pears left for North America in 1939. At the time, Britten was heavily criticized by the British press for appearing to escape the country in a time of war. Nevertheless, Britten found musical success in America including the opportunity to premiere some of his works at Carnegie Hall in New York. A homesick Britten returned to England with Pears in 1942. Although the war was not yet over, they were recognized as peacemakers and performed throughout the country as such until the war came to an end. In 1945, Britten accompanied the violinist Yehudi Menuhin at performances at the liberated Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Britten’s international breakthrough came with Peter Grimes, his first large-scale opera. However, opera was not a popular art form with English society. England was facing hard financial times after World War II, and London’s main opera company, Sadler's Wells, could not afford to produce new English opera because it did not attract a sizable audience. Instead, the company produced popular classic operas of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
In light of these circumstances, Britten decided to produce operas of a smaller scale, called chamber operas. These works were much less expensive to produce and could still draw audiences for tours. In 1947, Britten collaborated with several musicians to form The English Opera Group. They presented 51 performances throughout Britain and Europe that summer. Although they were relatively successful, the costs of touring became too high and left the English Opera Group with a large deficit. Since it was too expensive to tour the operas, Britten and Pears decided to organize their own festival in their new hometown of Aldeburgh, an isolated fishing town in northern England. The festival was an enormous sensation. The initial venue, Jubilee Hall, only held 290 people, barely enough seats to support an opera. Because of this size constraint, Britten and his collaborators remained constricted to the genre of chamber opera, which used a small cast and orchestra. This suited Britten’s interests, and he championed chamber operas for the rest of his career. The festival premiered an opera written by Britten almost every year. A Midsummer Night’s Dream premiered at Jubilee Hall in 1960. To this day, the Aldeburgh Festival is an internationally renowned center for music performance and education. Britten was especially devoted to educating young people and the general public in practical, fun ways. He wrote The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra to teach amateur musicians and children about the symphony. He composed a pirate story, The Golden Vanity, for the Vienna Boy’s Choir. His Noye’s Fludde is a one-act opera written for professional musicians to play together with children. Britten also recognized the important role of young people in society. In his haunting War Requiem, the use of a children’s chorus symbolizes purity, innocence, and peace. Later in his life, Britten found inspiration for his compositions in the many different cultures and musical styles he encountered from his travels. The Indonesian instruments in the traditional gamelan orchestra and the Japanese Noh plays especially piqued Britten’s interest.
Britten and Pears' Red House. Photo Credit: Christopher Hilton
In 1957, Britten and Pears moved to a house in Aldeburgh nicknamed "The Red House" where they would live for the rest of their lives. Living in Aldeburgh quickly became an important source of inspiration for Britten. Late in life, Britten suffered from a heart condition that ultimately led to his death on December 7, 1976. After Britten passed away, Pears continued to live in the Red House until his own death in 1986. The Red House is now open to the public. Britten’s work was his life. Rarely a day went by when he did not compose music. He wrote many compositions while also performing as a pianist and conductor. He leaves a legacy of thoughtprovoking, distinctly British music and a worldclass festival that continues to inspire audiences today. O P E R A S BY B E N JA M I N B R I T T E N • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Paul Bunyan (1941, revised 1976) Peter Grimes (1945) The Rape of Lucretia (1946) Albert Herring (1947) The Beggar's Opera (1948) Let's Make an Opera! (1949) Dido and Aeneas (1951) The Wandering Scholar (1951) Billy Budd (1951, revised in 1960) Gloriana (1953) The Turn of the Screw (1954) Noye's Fludde (1958) A Midsummer Night's Dream (1960) Owen Wingrave (1970) Death in Venice (1974) 11
B R I TA I N in the Time of Shakespeare and Britten life expectancy among the lower classes in London was only 42 years!
St. Paul's Cathedral was a symbol of London's skyline.
S H A K E S PE A RE ' S B RITA I N During William Shakespeare’s lifetime (15641616), Britain was in its Golden Age. English literature and poetry blossomed in the four decades of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign (1558-1603) known as the “English Renaissance.” But what was life really like in Elizabethan England? For those born into a noble family, life was quite extravagant. Members of the royal families wore heavy, intricate clothing that showed off their status. Nobles were highly educated and could read multiple languages. The majority of English people, however, were commoners who were beginning to live in cities rather than the farmlands. During Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, the population of people in cities grew from 5% to 15%. This led to the development of a new class of craftsmen, merchants, and small business owners. The merchant middle class had more opportunities to get an education than the peasant farmers. By the time Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, one third of England’s population was literate. The nobility and merchant class made up only a small portion of London's people. Most of the city’s population was extremely poor. They were uneducated and had little opportunity to experience life outside of their social class. Raw sewage ran down the city streets, and the average 12
Plays were a popular form of entertainment in the Elizabethan era for all members of London’s society. The theater was designed so that the different social classes could watch the plays from separate areas. The least expensive section was the ground level, where the “groundlings” watched the action while standing close to the stage. A higher price could buy admission to the covered balcony areas. Wealthier patrons paid even more to sit in private galleries. Many of Shakespeare’s plays were also performed for the Queen and other royals in private court showings. England was also beginning to expand its relations with countries far across the globe. The East India Trading Company was founded in 1600, shortly before the first performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1605. The company was involved in the spice trade with Asian nations. At the time, countries like India were an exotic concept for Europeans. The Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese had all established trade relations with Asia, but England got a chance to break into the spice trade after Queen Elizabeth led the British fleet to a victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588. A Midsummer Night’s Dream opens with Oberon, King of the Fairies, and his queen Tytania arguing over a “lovely Indian boy” stolen from an Indian king. The boy has no spoken lines in the play, but Oberon’s desire to have him as a personal page sets the plot in motion. The fairies’ obsession over the boy may reflect the British fascination with the exoticness of India at the time. The boy is seen as desirable and lovely, but he’s also full of mystery. We know almost nothing about the boy besides the small amount of information mentioned by Tytania. In the early 17th century, India was a faraway place that most people in Britain could only dream about. The mystery surrounding the Indian boy may reflect how little was understood about Asia in Shakespeare’s time.
B RIT TE N ' S B RITA I N Three centuries after Shakespeare’s death, Britten lived during a time of dramatic change in English society. When Britten was born in 1913, England was still enjoying the riches from the Victorian Era (1836-1901). The British Empire held colonies in almost every continent in the world and the economy was thriving. While World War I was a large-scale war, there was no major fighting on English soil. The British Empire actually grew to its peak size after the war when England acquired land previously held by the Germans. It was World War II that devastated the country. England became burdened with debt and the economy was slow to recover. Maintaining control over the colonies became increasingly difficult. As the United States and the Soviet Union emerged as the world’s great superpowers, England saw its influence declining. In response to the financial damage of World War II, the politician William Beveridge established the welfare state to fight the “five giant evils” of society: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness, and disease. The government created a social support system, providing the people with things like free public healthcare for all, access to education and housing, and assistance for the unemployed. While the government helped many people recover after the war, the effort required increased taxes and regulations. In the 1970s, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (left) ended the welfare state. She changed the nation’s policy toward privatization, which meant that the government had less control over services and businesses. Among the many changes made to the system, Margaret Thatcher lowered taxes and reduced the power of unions so workers could not organize strikes. This system allowed the economy to be more efficient, but some people opposed the new policies.
While the global political power of England decreased during this time, English language and pop culture still had a striking global influence. Many people of the British Commonwealth, or nations formerly controlled by the British Empire, moved to the U.K. and diversified the population. The Beatles also sent shockwaves throughout the world with their music, and they were quickly followed by The Who and The Rolling Stones.
The Beatles were an English rock band that achieved global fame, releasing some of the most influential hits in rock history.
In the last decades of Britten’s life, British society became increasingly liberal. Feminism influenced many important changes during this time. The contraceptive pill was legalized for all British women in 1967, giving women options for pursuing their ambitions beyond motherhood. Seven years after the U.S. passed the Equal Pay Act, the U.K. followed with a law of their own. Women held prominent roles in all different fields of work, with Barbara Castle becoming Britain’s first and only female First Secretary of State in 1968. Rights for the LGBTQ community advanced as well when the Sexual Offenses Act of 1967 passed, decriminalizing homosexuality. Shakespeare and Britten were both shaped by the British societies in which they lived. Their lifetimes may be separated by three hundred years, but both artists captivated and inspired audiences through A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
W H AT I N T H E W O R L D ? Events during Britten's Life Listed below are some historic and cultural events that took place during Benjamin Britten's lifetime. Events in boldface type are things that happened to Britten; an asterisk (*) indicates events of local interest.
1910 1913: Born on November 22 in Lowestoft, England. Henry Ford invented the assembly line. 1914: World War I began with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria.
1915 1919: The Treaty of Versailles was signed, signifying the end of World War I.
1920 1920: In the U.S., women won the right to vote with the adoption of the 19th Amendment. The Harlem Renaissance, an intellectual, social, and artistic explosion of African American culture, began in New York.
1925: Adolf Hitler published Mein Kampf, an autobiographical manifesto that would become the basis of Nazi ideology. 1927: Charles Lindbergh became the first person to make a solo nonstop transatlantic flight. Britten began compositional studies with Frank Bridge. 1929: The New York Stock Market crashed, beginning the Great Depression worldwide.
1930 1930: Britten entered the Royal College of Music, London. 1933: *The first drive-in movie theater opened in Camden, NJ.
1937: Britten wrote the Pacif ist March. Britten met Peter Pears, who was a member of the BBC Singers. 1938: Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), the Nazi operation to attack Jewish people and their property, occurred in Germany. Britten and Pears left England for North America. 1939: World War II began in Europe. 14
1940 1941: Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor, a U.S. naval base in Hawaii. 1942: Britten and Pears returned to Britain. 1944: The Invasion of Normandy (D-Day) led to the establishment of the Allied Forces in France.
1945 1945: Peter Grimes, Britten's first major opera, premiered in London. Nazi forces surrendered to the Allies. The U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. 1946: The Rape of Lucretia premiered at the Glyndebourne Festival. 1947: Britten formed the English Opera Group with librettist Eric Crozier and John Piper. 1948: Britten, Pears, and Crozier produced the first Aldeburgh Festival.
1960 1961: President Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, HI. 1962: The U.S. and U.S.S.R. faced a nuclear stand-off in the Cuban Missile Crisis. 1963: A Midsummer Night's Dream premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, TX.
1970: The first Earth Day was celebrated in the U.S. 1974: Death in Venice, Britten's last opera, premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival.
Rosa Parks is considered today as the "mother of the freedom movement".
1950 1950: The microwave oven was first patented in the U.S. by Percy Spencer. 1954: In Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that school segregation was unconstitutional.
1955 1955: Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, AL, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
The McDonald's fast food chain was founded by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald.
1967: In Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court struck down laws preventing interracial marriage. 1968: Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. 1969: Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon through the Apollo 13 mission.
1975 1975: *The Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company and the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company joined forces to create the Opera Company of Philadelphia, now Opera Philadelphia. 1976: Britten died of natural causes on December 4th in Aldeburgh with Pears present.
Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech on August 28, 1963
Visit bit.ly/operatimeline to continue exploring events in Britten's life.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM C a s t a n d C r e a t i v e Te a m LOVES:
G I V ES P OTI O N:
LOVE SPELL: *Opera Philadelphia debut
T Y TA N I A
Tim Mead* countertenor
Anna Christy* soprano
Miltos Yerolemou* actor
LY S A N DE R
Brenton Ryan tenor
Georgia Jarman* soprano
Siena Licht Miller mezzo-soprano
Johnathan McCullough baritone
Final Dress Rehearsal â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Wednesday, February 6, 2019, 2:00 p.m. at the Academy of Music. Music by Benjamin Britten. Libretto by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears adapted from William Shakespeare's play.
H I PP OLY TA
Allyson McHardy* mezzo-soprano
Evan Hughes* bass-baritone
Brent Michael Smith* bass
Matthew Rose bass
Miles Mykkanen* tenor DIRECTOR
S TA RV ELI NG
Patrick Guetti bass
Zachary Altman* bass-baritone
George Sommerville tenor
CO N D U C T O R Corrado Rovaris R EV I VA L D I R E C T O R Emmanuelle Bastet* A S S I S TA N T D I R E C T O R
S E T & CO S T U M E D E S I G N
P RO D U C T I O N D E S I G N A S S O C I AT E
W I G & M A K E - U P D E S I G N
LI G H T I N G D E S I G N
Robert Carsen*, Peter Van Praet*, Adrian Plaut*
C H O R E O G R A P H Y Matthew Bourne*, Shelby Williams* C H O R U S M A S T ER S Elizabeth Braden, Jeffrey Smith P H I L A D ELP H I A B O Y ' S C H O I R
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM Synopsis
Photo Credit: Patrick Berger / Aix-en-Provence Festival
ACT I Oberon, King of the Fairies and his queen, Tytania, have quarrelled over a changeling boy whom Tytania refuses to hand over to her husband. Oberon decides to punish her and sends Puck in search of a magic flower. Four young people appear: Hermia and Lysander wish to marry, but have run away to escape her father’s order that she must marry Demetrius. The latter is being pursued by Helena, whom he does not love. Oberon decides that, with the aid of the magic flower, he will be able to make Demetrius reciprocate Helena’s love. Six rustics, led by Quince and Bottom, meet to prepare a play which they hope to perform in front of Theseus and Hippolyta, to celebrate their wedding. Oberon squeezes the juice of the magic flower into the sleeping Tytania’s eyes: when she awakes she will fall in love with the first creature that she sees.
ACT II Bottom and his companions rehearse their play. Puck transforms Bottom into an ass. Tytania awakes, sees Bottom, and is enraptured. She summons four of her attendants to wait on her new lover, and then she and Bottom fall asleep. Oberon observes this with satisfaction, but is angry when he discovers that Puck has confused Demetrius with Lysander. Oberon’s attempt to correct this mistake makes things even worse: the two men who were in love with Hermia now both love Helena. When the four lovers quarrel violently, Oberon orders Puck to separate them and restore order.
ACT III Oberon, now in possession of the disputed boy, is prepared to make peace with Tytania. He frees her from her infatuation and husband and wife are reconciled. The four young people wake up: love is renewed between Hermia and Lysander, and new-born between Helena and Demetrius. They decide to ask Theseus’s permission to marry. The rustics lament the loss of their friend Bottom, and the inevitable cancellation of their play. Bottom, now restored to normal, joins his friends and they leave joyfully.
Theseus pardons the young lovers, and gives them permission to marry. He then invites the rustics to perform their entertainment at his and Hippolyta’s wedding reception. When midnight strikes, Theseus declares that it is time for bed. Oberon, Tytania, the fairies and Puck appear and give their blessing.
CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS Who's who? THE FAIRIES OBERON
King of the Fairies and husband of Tytania. Oberon wants Tytania's changeling boy as his servant, but the Queen won't give him up. A jealous Oberon sends his servant Puck to find the love-potion flower that bewitches many of the characters.
Queen of the fairies. She cares for a young servant boy after his mother passes away. After Oberon has a spell cast on her, Tytania falls in love with Bottom who has been transformed. Cobweb, Mustardseed, Moth, and Peaseblossom all serve Tytania.
The servant of Oberon, Puck's actions are the center of the plot. Aside from turning Bottom's head into a donkey, he mistakenly applies the love potion to Lysander instead of Demetrius. As a result, chaos ensues!
THE ROYALS LYSANDER
Lysander loves Hermia. Under Puck's spell though, he falls in love with Helena.
Demetrius is in love with Hermia but she wants nothing to do with him. While first disinterested in Helena, he eventually feels differently and the two fall in love.
Hermia loves Lysander but is promised by her father to marry Demetrius. She and Lysander run away so that they could be together forever.
Helena is in love with Demetrius but he has his eyes fixed on Hermia.
The Duke of Athens; engaged to Hippolyta
The Queen on the Amazons; engaged to Thesus.
THE MECHANICALS QUINCE
The leader of the mechanicals acting troupe, Peter Quince directs the play "Pyramus and Thisbe" for the royal wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta.
A weaver, Nick Bottom is an over-confident actor who plays the leading role of Pyramus. Under Puck's spell, Bottom's head is transformed into a donkey.
A bellows-mender, Flute is not excited about playing the female role of Thisbe.
Though a timid joiner, Snug is cast as the lion who fails to eat Thisbe.
A tinker, Snout plays the comedic role of the wall in "Pyramus and Thisbe"
STARVELING A tailor, Starveling plays the role of the moon.
SHAKESPEARE' S FAIRIES f rom devilish to dainty by Fumika Mizuno When you think of fairies, maybe you picture the kindhearted Fairy Godmother from Cinderella, or Tinker Bell from Peter Pan. Maybe you think of the Tooth Fairy from your childhood or the elegant Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker ballet. Chances are, the image you have conjured in your mind’s eye is probably not that of the hairy, demonic, and rude spirit known as Robin Goodfellow. Before Shakespeare wrote A Midsummer Night’s Dream, fairies in folklore were considered sinister and demonic. In fact, fairies were believed to be directly influenced by the devil. It's actually thanks to Shakespeare and his work in Midsummer that fairies began to be seen in new ways. The name Puck, which is used by Shakespeare in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is based on the English folklore figure Robin Goodfellow. Long before Shakespeare created Midsummer, Robin Goodfellow was known throughout folklore as a demonic shape-shifter and prankster who often misled travelers on their path. Only seldomly could Goodfellow be found doing good deeds such as sharing food or helping with household chores. Robin Goodfellow's negative reputation far preceded him. In Old English (spoken in 500 to 1150 C.E.), ‘Puck’ emerged as the nickname for this devilish character.
Shakespeare helped the name Puck to take on new meaning when he created the more playful character we see in Midsummer. While the fairy chorus introduces Puck in Act I as "shrewd and knavish" (dishonest), they also say that those who call him "sweet Puck... shall have good luck." In Midsummer, Puck's most central role is in sprinkling the magic juice of a flower over the eyes of the human lovers. This comes as a command from Oberon who Puck so dutifully serves. Certainly no harm was to come to these lovers. The act was meant to cause just a bit of mischievous confusion. In earlier tales of Robin Goodfellow, one might have expected the result
A grinning Puck makes one last appearance in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Photo Credit: Robert Workman / English National Opera
of Puck's actions to be far more severe. In addition to the jovial characterization of Puck, there are other ways Shakespeare helped to make fairies more empathetic. Previously, fairies were believed to steal babies in the middle of the night and leave a horrible-looking creature, or "changeling", in their place. Shocked parents would wake up the next morning to find an impostor fairy in place of their baby. Some historians believe that legends of these changelings were a response to babies being born with unexplainable health defects or diseases in the Middle Ages. In Act I of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Oberon and Tytania sing about a "changeling" of their own. Both are arguing over the custody of a human child that has recently been stolen from an Indian king. In the story, this child remains nameless and is simply referred to as the "Indian Boy". Referring to an innocent human child as a "changeling" was something completely new and a concept that Shakespeare helped to change. While Oberon wants desperately for the Indian boy to serve as his new servant, Tytania wants to protects the child from such a hard fate. She cares tenderly for the boy and can often be seen
holding him close in her arms. Tytania shows that fairies are truly capable of love. In addition to making fairies more kindhearted, Shakespeare was able to make them more relatable and refined. The reasoning for this might lie in the demographic differences of theatre audiences. Most of the early legends surrounding fairies like Robin Goodfellow originated from people who lived in the rural areas of England. These areas were often separated by great distances. Shakespeare, however, wrote plays for a growing urban audience in London. During the Elizabethan era, the population of London almost quadrupled. As more and more people flocked to the city, London became the cultural center of the country. Theater was by far the main source of entertainment for Londoners in the 1500s and audiences were looking to be entertained by stories they could relate to. In Midsummer, Shakespeare made the unique choice to create a world of fairies that fit within a social caste system. Sitting atop the pyramid were King Oberon and Queen Tytania. Puck and a chorus of fairies served their every need. Associating
In Act I of the opera, Oberon and Tytania argue over the custody of a beautiful Indian boy. Photo Credit: Patrick Berger / Aix-en-Provence Festival
fairies with royalty was truly unique. Perhaps such a choice was meant to please the likes of Queen Elizabeth, who was known for attending special court performances of Shakespeare's plays. Shakespeareâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s design and use of fairies in A Midsummer Nightâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Dream was certainly radical for its time and has been significant in shaping our understanding today.
ACTIVITY : Create a Pinterest board that
shows the class your interpretation of fairies. First, do some exploring by completing the following steps. Once you are done, sketch the design of your own original fairy. Present your findings and creation to the rest of the class.
1. Images of fairies that someone else created. 2. Images that represent what comes to mind for you when you think of fairies. This can be literal or abstract. 3. Images you would use to create your own fairies if you are designing costumes for A Midsummer Night's Dream. 4. Under each image, add a one sentence comment sharing why you chose that image.
"ONE OF THIS CONFEDERACY" Reconsidering Athenian Stage Commentar y by Rob McClung No moment in William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream provokes more laughter than the Rude Mechanical’s rendition of Pyramus and Thisbe. Penned by the play’s carpenter, Peter Quince, for the wedding entertainment of the King of Athens, it’s an interesting choice. The play tells the story of the lovers Pyramus and Thisbe who, just like Romeo and Juliet, kill themselves in the end. If you’re wondering why anyone would adapt that story for a wedding occasion, you’ve caught one of the many questionable choices made by the earnest actors in Midsummer. For over 400 years, audiences have laughed with the Athenians by delighting in the awkward script and acting of “hard-headed men who never labored in their minds till now.” The remark is Hippolyta’s, and it is one of the many witticisms that embellish the comedy of Pyramus and Thisbe. The Athenians’ commentary makes audiences laugh; and by laughing with them, Shakespeare lures audiences to collectively identify with the Athenians. This is problematic when we interrogate their behavior and language because, simply put, the Athenians are bullies. Any form of intentionally harmful, repeated behavior constitutes bullying. This includes harassment, unwelcome conduct, and targeted attacks on gender, race, sexuality, socioeconomic status, and language proficiency, among others. Bullies exploit the power imbalances between the strong and the weak, the rich and the poor, the native and the foreigner, the insider and the outsider. Bullying comes in many forms, but in all cases, victims are never capable of defending themselves. There is no question that the Athenians would find themselves in their school guidance counselor’s office were they enrolled as students today; they are all guilty of exploiting their elite status to denigrate the far less powerful Rude Mechanicals. 22
Remember that in the fictional world of ancient Athens there exists a fixed and grossly unequal social hierarchy. The Athenians belong to the class of the privileged, educated lawmakers, the ruling elite. The Rude Mechanicals fall under a decidedly less privileged group: the working class. “Rude” does not mean impolite, it simply means uncultured or unpolished; “Mechanicals” refers to their modest occupations as artisans. Snug, for example, is a joiner (akin to a carpenter); Snout is a tinker, (rather like a repairman). There is no question that the Athenians carry a prejudiced disdain from that sense of difference. Hippolyta utters the above line before even meeting her guests. Were the Mechanicals to hear that remark—or any subsequent during the performance—there would be no chance of objection or self-defensive action because the laws of Athens protect the king and his bride against acts of insubordination. All of the Mechanicals are targets of ridicule during the performance of Pyramus, but in the Britten-Pears libretto, the worst served is poor Robin Starveling, the tailor. Cast as “Moonshine,” Starveling has done his best with the materials he has found to represent his character: a lantern, a dog, and a thornbush. Starveling is perhaps the weakest because he most overtly suffers from stage fright. As he begins to stutter, Lysander, Demetrius, Theseus, and Hippolyta offer uninvited criticism. Lysander remarks that Starveling “should have worn the horns on his head,” teasing Starveling’s pronunciation of lantern as “lant-horn.” It would not be unlike a student teasing a peer who mispronounces an unfamiliar word in class due to a difference in culture, dialect, or vocabulary. With his words, Lysander openly ridicules Starveling. Starveling gets flustered; the text leaves no question about that. He restarts his line twice before giving up and improvising the rest: “All that I have to say is to tell you that the lanthorn is the moon, I the man I’ th’ moon, this thornbush my thornbush, and this dog my dog.”
Flute performs the dramatic f inal scene of "Pyramus and Thisbe". Photo Credit: Robert Workman / English National Opera
Why does he get flustered? Is it stage fright alone, or does he hear Hippolyta’s annoyance when she says, “I am weary of this moon; would that he would change.” The pun is clever: “change” means to exit the stage and, as moon, assume a different lunar phase; but it’s nevertheless a comment that would hurt the feelings of any actor, good or bad, professional or amateur. Read in the context of bullying, Starveling’s emotional reaction carries tones of embarrassment, frustration, and shame. This moment, one of several during the performance of Pyramus and Thisbe, should make us question our laughter. Would we side with the Athenians if they lived in our own world? Lysander reveals a startling racial prejudice when he exaggerates Hermia’s dark complexion by calling her a “tawny Tartar” and an “Ethiop[ian].” A man who uses race or nationality as an insult is not one with whom many of us would care to associate; and if we remember that Hermia is “littler” than the other three lovers, Lysander’s remarks certainly take advantage of the power imbalance between them. If we examine the Athenians’s behavior throughout the play, it is not how we would act or expect our friends to act.
By that same token, the Mechanicals ring true with greater decency. They are sincere in producing their play, taking time to rehearse and prepare before the performance in Theseus’ palace. They collaborate with goodwill, accept each other’s flaws (especially Bottom’s), and evince none of the cruel behavior we see with the Athenians. The Mechanicals care about each other’s well-being; take, for example, their joy at finding Bottom safely returned in the morning: “Where are these lads?” Bottom exclaims, “Where are these hearts?”; to which Quince echoes, “Bottom! O most courageous day! O most happy hour!” It is perhaps the sincerest moment of friendship, comradery, and decency in the play. In Shakespeare’s day, many considered the theater a reflection of the world itself (hence his own theater’s name, “The Globe”). The stage reflected human behavior, desires, hopes, and experiences. Shakespeare held a mirror up to the world and challenged his audiences to question who they are, who they want to be. When we engage in this form of self-reflection, we interrogate our deepest beliefs and prejudices. If they do not bear up to our own moral scrutiny, we can change them; and once that’s achieved, we transform our world into one that is fairer and just. 23
AC T I N G T H E STO RY U s i n g Ta b l e a u x After reading A Midsummer Night's Dream, choose one of your favorite scenes and act it out with a few of your classmates. W H AT I S A TA BL E AU ? In a tableau, participants make still images with their bodies to represent a scene. A tableau can be used to quickly establish a scene that involves a large number of characters.
A DDITIONA L IDE A S The tableau doesn’t just have to be a mute frozen image. Students can be told in advance that they will be video taped during the presentation, and that they will need to provide a clue as to who or what they represent in the tableau. As an alternate the teacher or a student could act as a reporter and conduct short interviews with individuals acting in the tableau. The teacher might choose to facilitate a discussion with the audience by highlighting certain tableau details through questioning. For example, you could ask, “Why might this character be smiling?” or “What do you think this character is thinking?”
Puck greets the fairy chorus at the beginning of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Photo: Robert Workman / English National Opera
HOW DO YOU M A K E A TA BL E AU ? To begin, give each group an excerpt from the synopsis (like one scene), and ask the groups to create a frozen image that somehow captures the essence of what is going on in the scene. Students must then collaborate to decide how to represent the scene in the form of a tableau. No matter what they do, students should carefully craft their gestures, facial expressions, and physical poses. Give groups enough time to plan and rehearse and, when they are ready, have students present their scenes while the rest of the class discusses what they think is going on in the tableau. Additionally, one of the members of the group can read the scene while the other members act it out in tableau. Finally, have the class discuss the choices that went into making that particular tableau.
Tableau can also be a series of frozen images that, together, tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Or, the tableau might be more effective with the music from the opera playing. Groups also might want to use slow motion to transition from one tableau to the next. After the students create the tableau, encourage them to describe how they think music could enhance the scene that they created. Then ask students to use sounds to describe the music and back up their ideas with evidence. For a more detailed lesson plan from Opera America, visit tinyurl.com/oatableaux For a reference video on how to create a tableau using an opera scene, visit tinyurl.com/operatableaux Sources cited: learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/07/scenes-in-tableaudrama-strategies-to-use-with-any-days-times-part-2/?_r=0 dramaresource.com/tableaux/
WRITING A REVIEW of the Opera A review is an opinionated piece of writing. It is an opportunity for someone to communicate their likes and dislikes about a particular event. A good theater review takes into consideration all of the things that happened on stage. Before writing a review, it is good to organize your thoughts. Use the following template to create a review of A Midsummer Night's Dream. JOIN OUR BLOG! - When you finish writing your review, consider submitting it online! Opera Philadelphia would love to hear your thoughts about the production. Just remember to include your first name, school, and grade. Visit: operaphillysol.blogspot.com. PL O T & CH A R AC T ER S Did the performance tell the story dramatically, and were you engaged in the plot? Summarize the main characters and conflict briefly in this opening paragraph.
M USIC & VOICES Did the music carry the characters and action forward? Were there particular voices, arias, or duets that added to your involvement in the conflict?
S TAGI NG How did the sets, costumes, and staging enhance or undermine the plot?
SET TING Make note of the time and location where the opera takes place. Is it the same setting the composer imagined, or has it been updated? If it has been updated, does the change add to the power of the piece, or is it a distraction?
YOU R OPINION Would you recommend this performance to your friends or family? Explain why or why not.
GLOSSARY A D A M A N T - ( A D - u h - m u h n t ) A D J . unyielding in attitude or opinion A M I T Y - ( A M - i - t e e ) N . friendship A N O I N T - ( u h - N O I N T ) V. to rub or sprinkle on A S U N D E R - ( u h - S U N - d e r ) A D V. into separate parts or pieces B R I E R - ( B R A H - y e r ) N . a prickly plant or shrub C O N T R I V E D - ( k u h n - T R A H Y V D ) A D J . obviously planned or forced D O W A G E R - ( D O U - u h - j e r ) N . a woman who holds property from her deceased husband E D I C T - ( E E - d i k t ) N . an official command E S P Y - ( i h - S P A H Y ) V. to see at a distance E X T E M P O R E - ( i k - S T E M - p u h - r e e ) A D V. on the spur of the moment F L O U T - ( f l o u t ) V. to treat with disdain; scoff at G A L L A N T - ( G A L - u h n t ) A D J . brave, noble-minded G A M B O L - ( G A M - b u h l ) V. to skip about or dance K N A V I S H - ( N E Y - v i s h ) A D J . mischievous, untrustworthy N U P T I A L - ( N U H P - c h u l ) A D J . of or relating to marriage P A R L O U S - ( P A H R - l u h s ) A D J . dangerous P R O G E N Y - ( P R O J - u h - n e e ) N . a descendant or offspring Q U E R N - ( k w u r n ) N . a hand-operated mill for grinding grain S E N T I N E L - ( S E N - t n - l ) N . a person that watches or stands guard T Y R A N T - ( T A H Y - r u n t ) N . a person in a position of authority who uses power unjustly V O T A R E S S - ( V O H - t e r - i s ) N . a devoted follower of someone or something
OPERA PHILADELPHIA David B. Devan General Director & President
Corrado Rovaris Jack Mulroney Music Director
Michael Bolton Vice President of Community Initiatives
Sounds of Learning was established by a
generous grant from The Annenberg Foundation. Dedicated funding for the Sounds of Learning program has been provided by:
THE WILLIAM PENN FOUNDATION Wells Fargo Foundation Hamilton Family Charitable Trust Universal Health Services Eugene Garfield Foundation The Hirsig Family Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation The McLean Contributionship Louis N. Cassett Foundation Victory Foundation
Written and produced by: Opera Philadelphia Community Initiatives Department ÂŠ 2019 1420 Locust Street, Suite 210 Philadelphia, PA, 19102 Tel: 215.893.5925 operaphila.org/learn Michael Bolton Vice President of Community Initiatives firstname.lastname@example.org Steven Humes Education Manager email@example.com Veronica Chapman-Smith Community Initiatives Administrator firstname.lastname@example.org Katie Kelley Graphic Designer email@example.com Fumika Mizuno Community Initiatives Intern Special thanks to:
Rob McClung Curriculum Consultant Frank Machos Executive Officer, Office of Arts & Academic Enrichment School District of Philadelphia The Office of Strategic Partnerships School District of Philadelphia Dr. Bettie Joyner Kleckley Dr. Nanci Ritter Program Evaluators Maureen Lynch Operations Manager, Academy of Music Frank Flood Assistant Operations Manager, Academy of Music Cornell Wood Head Usher, Academy of Music Academy of Music Ushers