The Fairy Queen
Watch Purcell's The Fairy Queen online for free from Sunday 23 August
Glyndebourne is facing a devastating impact due to the cancellation of Festival 2020.
If you have enjoyed Glyndebourne Open House, please consider donating to our COVID-19 emergency appeal.
If you would prefer to donate by phone please call our Box Office on +44(0)1273 815000 during Box Office opening hours.
About the opera
Taking us from rowdiest, raunchiest comedy to bewitching beauty and pathos, Purcell’s The Fairy Queen is a theatrical fantasy unlike any other. Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream finds itself at the centre of a sequence of musical apparitions and conjurings – fairies romp and play, animals dance and mortals are manipulated by the gods. Through it all, love and desire weave their irresistible spell.
Purcell’s score brings everything from English choral writing to Italian laments and French dances together in a rich musical tapestry. There’s comedy from lusty shepherds and tenderness from separated lovers – a musical story that winds around Shakespeare’s play and characters to create an exhilarating fusion of theatre, music and dance.
Jonathan Kent’s ‘delectable’ production opens up a 17th-century cabinet of curiosities to reveal the contemporary magic within, working with conductor William Christie and a cast including Lucy Crowe, Carolyn Sampson and Ed Lyon to find the anarchic energy at the heart of this unusual work.
The Fairy Queen was captured live at Festival 2009. It is available on DVD from our shop.
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
The Glyndebourne Chorus
Miriam Allan, Lucy Crowe, Claire Debono, Anna Devin, Helen-Jane Howells, Rachel Redmond, Carolyn Sampson
Robert Burt, Sean Clayton, Ed Lyon, Adrian Ward
Lukas Kargl, John Mackenzie
Desmond Barrit, Andrew Foster-Williams
Oliver le Sueur
Oliver Kieran Jones
Laura Caldow, Nuno Campos, Tommy Franzen, Omar Gordon, Anthony Kurt-Gabel, Caroline Lynn, Maurizio Montis, Sarah Stoner
Photos: Alastair Muir
In accordance with the law, Theseus requires Demetrius to marry Hermia, as her father, Egeus, wishes. But Hermia is in love with Lysander, while Demetrius is the unwilling object of Helena’s love. To avoid Theseus’s edict, Hermia and Lysander flee the town, pursued by Demetrius and Helena. Meanwhile, some tradesmen are preparing a play to celebrate the expected wedding and arrange to meet for rehearsals in a nearby wood. Titania, the fairy queen, comes into the wood to hide a changeling boy from her jealous husband, Oberon. The lovers and the tradesmen blunder into the wood and are tormented by Titania’s attendants.
Oberon and Titania confront each other and, refusing to forfeit the changeling boy, Titania leaves Oberon, who plots with Puck to revenge himself on her by administering a love potion, which will make her fall in love with the first thing she sees on waking. Oberon overhears a quarrel between the lovers, and instructs Puck to use the potion on them as well.
The Masque of Sleep
Titania is prepared for sleep.
Allegorical figures of Night, Mystery, Secrecy and Sleep appear to her.
The tradesmen are rehearsing their play in the wood. Puck transforms Bottom into an ass, frightening off the other workmen. Titania wakes and becomes besotted with Bottom.
The Masque of Seduction
Titania entertains Bottom with a masque which presents the delights of sensual love, with images from pastoral life.
Oberon brings the rightful pairs of lovers back together and releases Titania from the spell.
The Masque of the New Day
The fairy monarch’s reconciliation is celebrated with a masque of renewal. Phoebus, the Sun, appears and presents the seasons.
Theseus discovers the lovers in the wood and, finding that Demetrius no longer loves Hermia, overrules Egeus’s demands and arranges a wedding for the lovers. The tradesmen present their play in celebration of the marriage.
The Masque of Marriage
The lovers are instructed by Juno in the delights and perils of matrimony. They are presented with images of hope, loss and innocence. Hymen eventually appears to officiate.