Every bit of this production was beautifully and intricately crafted; from the dazzling, elaborate costumes, to the evocative colour palette, it was a fully immersive experience that was moving in the most unexpected ways.
For those looking to escape into a Shakespearean fantasy world filled with fairies, comical misunderstandings, and top-notch singing, this production of Midsummer is not to be missed.
It is a piece that is so clearly a microcosm of a very specific place and time. Director Richard Jones has chosen to set it in the mid-60s in a repressive, religious Russian community where a life of domesticity, is a woman's only option.
Every facet of this production is thoughtful and dramatic, so much so that even the actors aren't immune from its terrors. It was announced before curtain that Stemme sustained a knee injury during a rehearsal (one look at the steeply raked set and you'll wonder the whole cast isn't on crutches!).
Hannigan's well received turn at the podium, met by an immediate and unanimous standing ovation, should serve to demonstrate to the Cleveland Orchestra, and to classical music institutions across the continent and around the globe, that making an effort to include and elevate marginalized perspectives holds significance well beyond meeting a quota or "catching up with the times."
It was at times Sondheim, at times Schwartz, at times Bernstein, but the overarching feeling (to me) was akin to Adam Guettel's masterpiece A Light in the Piazza.
What can one possibly say about Christine Goerke in this role and still do justice to the kind of singing we experienced on Saturday night? Her vocal range is not of this dimension and her finesse to Strauss' bombastic score is something to be witnessed in person.
The party scene put a pit in my stomach, as did everything that came after. The confusion, the horrid feeling of not knowing - but kind of knowing - what happened during a blackout, the inadequate explanations to friends and boyfriends, it was all too true.
Like the jewels she wore (and there were many), soprano Kristina Mkhitaryan sparkled in the starring role, singing with agility, clarity, and show-stopping emotional depth. Her soft, liquid entrances in "Addio, del passato" melded impeccably with the plaintive oboe solo.
This semi-staged production at the Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall with the London Philharmonic Orchestra had none of that. Well, except for the drama. There was a lot of drama.