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A Midsummer Night’s Dream in collaboration with Irish Classical Theatre
The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Irish Classical Theatre present a very special collaborative production of Shakespeare’s warmhearted comedy with Felix Mendelssohn’s brilliant score. Four young lovers discover the course of true love runs anything but smooth, as supernatural sprites conspire to reveal what fools we mortals be, and draw us all into the collective dream of romance and merriment.
JoAnn Falletta, conductor
Fortunato Pezzimenti, director
Starring Vincent O’Neill
Friday evening’s performance is sponsored by Philips Lytle LLP.
Click the image below to view the program book:
by Edward Yadzinski
German composer and pianist
born: 3 February 1809, Hamburg; died: 4 November 1847, Leipzig
Overture, Op.21, and Incidental Music, Op.61,
to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Act II: Scherzo
Scene music – Andante
Act III: Intermezzo
Scene music – Allegro
Act IV: Nocturne
Scene music – Andante
Act V: Wedding March
Scene music – Funeral march
Dance of the Clowns
Scene music – Chorus and Finale
First Classics performance: January 7, 1947, conducted by William Steinberg; most recent performance: May 1, 2005, conducted by JoAnn Falletta
The music of Felix Mendelssohn is imbued with lyrical melody, rich harmony and meticulous refinement. Balanced with equal measures of the classical and
Romantic modes, his orchestral works were very popular during his lifetime. Also, as a keyboard artist Felix’ facility was highly regarded. Hector Berlioz eagerly wrote: “His talent as a performing artist is as great as his genius as a composer…I strongly believe him to be one of the finest musical talents of our age.”
During his childhood Mendelssohn became a renowned wunderkind, and from very early on he was able to compose with remarkable facility. Beyond music, his youthful interests encompassed literature, painting and philosophy. At the age of 12 Felix became the admired young friend of no less than Goethe, then aged 72. Just five years later the young genius, at the ‘mature’ age of 17, composed the Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream and finished the musical sketches for incidental music to Shakespeare’s drama.
Inspiration for the score derived from a German translation of the play, which young Felix had read with his sister Fanny. After completing the Overture, Mendelssohn did not return to the project until fifteen years later, at a request from the King of Prussia. The composer was on the podium for the first performance of the work with the London Philharmonic in 1844. The full score comprises thirteen numbers, including the very well-known Wedding March and the masterful Scherzo, one of the best known pieces in the orchestral repertoire. It portrays the quiet but devilish excitement of a forest scene in Act II.
Shakespeare completed A Midsummernight’s Dream in 1596. In all, there are 21 characters including Oberon, King of the Fairies and his Queen, Titania, three pairs of lovers, workers, forest sprites, the famous mischief-maker Puck and the ever-gullible Bottom. In five acts, the play offers a convoluted comedy about the foibles and fables of love and life. All of the action is set In the wooded environs of Athens, Greece in an idyllic time long past.
The lovers to be married – eventually – are Theseus, the Duke of Athens and Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons; Lysander and Hermia; and Demetrius and Helena.
After four acts of gleeful, nearly hopeless confusion, to honor the wedding of Oberon and Titania, Shakespeare scribes a ‘play-within-a-play’ – retelling the fable of the star-crossed lovers Pyramus and Thisbe from Greek mythology. In the final scene, all of the droll mischief is put right with a joyful triple wedding.
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