In the Wings

Backstage glimpses with Boston Lyric Opera

Shakespeare meets opera

Jan 10, 2011 2:37:00 PM
By BLO Staff

Although I am admittedly an “opera-newbie” and have yet to
see a live opera performance, I am glad that my internship at BLO is going to
change that. A long time lover of musicals and theatre in general, I am
definitely excited to see a different type of show on stage. I must admit
though, that I am particularly excited to see Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream this spring.
As any good English major should, I’ve definitely had my
fair share of exposure to Shakespeare’s works – but not like this. We were
always taught that one of the greatest things about the Bard is that his works
are universal and can be adapted in a plethora of ways – and they actually make
sense (most of the time). The classic plays can be performed just as they were
written in the period they are set, done with complete 16th century
costumes and sets, and sure, people enjoy them. With the romance, fighting,
lies and the occasional disguise, what’s not to enjoy? Take the classic
story, set it in modern times and tweak the characters a bit, and the universal
themes speak to an even wider audience. From West Side Story to She’s the
(yes, the movie starring Amanda Bynes) it’s been done before. Through
these mediums, a whole new audience has been introduced Shakespeare’s works without
even knowing it.
There is no denying Shakespeare’s influence over all facets
of theatre and film; but I never realized that his influence extended to opera.
When I think about it, though, it makes perfect sense – if set to the correct
music, Shakespeare’s text would almost flow right off the tongue; and the
music, if anything, only emphasizes the varying emotions that sometimes are not
easily conveyed with words. Not to mention most of the plays already embody
characteristics that make operas so entertaining – passion, tension, and of
course, romance. I guess the ease with which Shakespearean works lend
themselves to adaptation makes it hard to believe that the Britten adaptation
of A Midsummer Night’s Dream won’t do
the work justice. I think I’m just excited to see Shakespeare from yet another lens.
- Katie McNamara, Saint Anselm College

Topics: Student Posts, General Opera

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