A Midsummer Night's Dream was Benjamin Britten's seventh major opera and had its premiere at Aldeburgh in 1960. Britten and his partner Peter Pears prepared a condensed version of Shakespeare's much-loved comedy for the libretto, using (with the exception of a single line) only the original text. In this newly commissioned guide, Andrew Plant explores the genesis of the opera's composition, including passages of recently published material from Britten's own correspondence. Philip Reed examines the musical language of the opera and has prepared a detailed thematic guide, while David Nice outlines many of the different approaches to the work in productions that have taken place over the last forty years. An essay by Philip Brett discusses how the opera reflects the central issues in Britten's work. Finally, a unique article is included which Britten himself wrote for the Observer immediately preceding the work's premiere. The present edition also contains twentyfive black-and-white and colour photographs, the full libretto, a discography, DVD guide, bibliography and website guide. It will prove an invaluable companion to opera-goers wanting to increase their understanding and enjoyment of this magical work.
Benjamin Britten (1913-76) was an English composer, conductor and pianist. He showed prodigious talent from an early age and first came to public attention with the a cappella choral work A Boy Was Born. He leapt to international fame with his opera Peter Grimes in 1945. This was followed by eight other major operas, including Billy Budd (1951), A Mid- summer's Night Dream (1960) and Death in Venice (1973), as well as other orchestral, choral and chamber works, which established his reputation as one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century.