Douglas Boyd dreams of summer
Douglas Boyd, who conducts our A Midsummer Night's Dream, gives an insight into the collaboration and how it captures the magic of Mendelssohn’s music and the genius of Shakespeare’s play for Garsington Opera this summer.
"Mendelssohn wrote his concert overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream when he was 17, which led George Grove to remark that it was “the greatest marvel of early maturity that the world has ever seen in music". 16 years later Mendelssohn returned to the theme when he was commissioned by the King of Prussia, Fredrick William IV, to write incidental music for the play. It was first performed (with the play) at the New Palace in Potsdam in 1843 with vocal sections as well as purely instrumental numbers, including the ‘Scherzo’, ‘Nocturne’ and, perhaps Mendelssohn’s most famous piece of all, the ‘Wedding March’. Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with incidental music by Mendelssohn is one of the greatest ‘marriages’ of artists born over 200 years apart. In our production, the orchestra will share the stage with actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company. After the performance of the Overture, the actors will take to the stage for Gregory Doran's version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Several of Mendelssohn's movements will be performed as standalone numbers, such as the 'Nocturne' and the 'Wedding March', in order to describe and enhance the play's narrative through purely musical means. Other numbers will combine Shakespeare's play and music in what is known in opera as ‘melodrama’. Throughout this abridged version of the play the narrative's integrity will remain intact so that both the magic of Mendelssohn's music and the genius of Shakespeare's play are captured for a Garsington Opera audience. We are delighted to collaborate with one of the world's great theatre companies in an event that will celebrate words, music, song, poetry and theatre."