Operas from Mozart, Purcell and Verdi are laced with magic of all kinds and two celebrate Shakespeare at Iford Arts' summer festival
Benevolent magic wielded by fairies dominates the action of Shakespeare’s comic fantasy A Midsummer Night’s Dream for which Purcell composed operatic scenes. Iford Arts is mounting a new performing version of Purcell’s score by Tim Nelson which fuses more closely with the play and creates a continuous thread, entangling fairies, runaway lovers and rude mechanicals together in an English dreamworld. Christian Curnyn conducts the Early Opera Company orchestra and Tim Nelson directs.
The black magic which suffuses the dark story of Macbeth’s rise to power is one of the reasons why Shakespeare’s ‘Scottish play’ has been thought to be unlucky. In this production of Verdi’s adaptation Iford will use its cloister to illustrate destruction and abandonment, a metaphor for the uncertain state of the country ruled over by James I. Into this a vacuum steps an ambitious man for whom witchcraft is the catalyst for bloody change. Oliver Gooch conducts and Bruno Ravella directs.
The otherworldly atmosphere of the cloister at Iford will again be a central feature in John Savournin’s Charles Court Opera production of Mozart’s Magic Flute. The flute has the power to change sorrow into joy and helps the hero Tamino through trials of body and spirit. Baffling yet popular, sublime as well as entertaining, this is an allegorical story in which two young men find their hearts’ content in a mystical world where wisdom must be learned through trial and error and nothing is as it seems to be.
The Iford Arts opera season opens on June 4 with Verdi’s Macbeth and continues with the Charles Court Opera production of Mozart’s Magic Flute on July 2. The final production is a new adaptation of Purcell’s Fairy Queen opening on July 23. There is also a programme of classical and jazz concerts.