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Henry Purcell - The Fairy Queen / English National Opera

2.7 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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(Mar 31, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Based on an incident in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Henry Purcell's The Fairy Queen is extraordinarily beautiful and contains some of the most inspired arias penned for the English language. David Pountney's production for the English National Opera is a spectacular offering as phantasmagorical as the enchanted dreams in the magical moonlit woods. The tale is a joyful fusion of music, dance and comedy which brings alive the splendor of the Baroque for a modern audience. Thomas Randle, Simon Rice, Richard Van Allan, Yvonne Kenny.

Opera in 3 parts, Sung in English

Choreographed and Staged by Quinny Sacks

Titania: Yvonne Kenny
Oberon: Thomas Randle
Puck: Simon Rice
Theseus/Hymen: Richard Van Allan
The Indian Boy: Arthur Pita

Orchestra And Chorus Of The English National Opera

Review

Henry Purcell wrote only one opera, Dido and Aeneas, in a form that would be called operatic today. Other Purcell works that bear the operatic label, including The Fairy Queen and King Arthur, are actually masques or pageants, royal divertissements that sadly illustrate the decline of English drama during the late 17th century. Being the work of Purcell, The Fairy Queen has a lot of musical value. Its melodies are fresh and lilting, and its rhythms have a distinctive sparkle and vitality. Purcell's brilliantly baroque imagination was allowed to run wild in embroidering themes inspired (rather remotely, to be sure) by the fairyland fantasies of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Lovers of the Bard should be warned, however, that not a single line of Shakespeare's masterpiece has been set to Purcell's music in this adaptation. For its revival in 1692, Shakespeare's text was considered not good enough. The play was rewritten, probably by the profoundly forgettable Elkanah Settle. The plot was altered, and characters and incidents added (nymphs, shepherds, a Chinese man and woman, the God of Marriage, the four seasons personified, and even a dance of monkeys). The text was spoken, not sung, except for long, elaborately staged musical extravaganzas (bearing little thematic relation to Shakespeare's text) that were tacked on at the end of each of the play's five acts. These songs, dances, and choruses--more than two hours of them--are the content of the English National Opera's production of The Fairy Queen.

No effort has been made--wisely--to preserve any plot or other form of thematic coherence. The numbers are simply presented as a sort of mildly erotic variety show. There is a recurring cast of characters, including supernatural beings, humans, and animals. Costumes and props are wildly eclectic, ranging from modern realism to antiquarian fantasy. The attraction of this production lies in its skilled combination of baroque music and modern dance, both performed deftly and working together more smoothly than might have been expected. --Joe McLellan, Amazon.com


Special features

None.

Product details

  • Actors: Thomas Randle, Simon Rice
  • Directors: David Pountney
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: KULTUR VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: March 31, 2009
  • Run Time: 133 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B001PSVHO4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #201,225 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
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Customer reviews

Top customer reviews

on July 30, 2009
Format: DVD|Verified Purchase
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on February 13, 2013
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on May 17, 2009
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