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A Midsummer Night's Dream by Benjamin Britten

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Part of the Overture Opera Guides Series


A Midsummer Night's Dream by Benjamin Britten

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.


These guides, so beautiful to have and to behold, mark a huge advance on their predecessors. I find them essential supplements, not only to ENO and Royal Opera programmes, but to recordings issued on CD which often come without scholarly documentation and a libretto. The performance histories - of which I wrote one myself - are especially valuable, and not easily accessible elsewhere. -- Hugh Canning of The Sunday Times For anyone with a keen interest in opera, whatever their level of knowledge, this series remains a benchmark of quality and clarity. The content is serious, reliable and trustworthy, handsomely put together, full of variety and scholarship but always making the practical experience of going to the opera a priority. I return to these volumes again and again and find the updated and new issues absolutely invaluable. -- Fiona Maddocks of The Observer This uniformly excellent series is indispensable for the serious opera lover, all the more so now that almost all the CD companies have abandoned issuing a libretto with their opera releases, and have such scant background information. The English translations are on facing pages with the original texts, and in all respects the books are helpful and compact, and interestingly illustrated. -- Michael Tanner of The Spectator I am delighted to see the return of the ENO Opera Guides, bigger and even more authoritative than before. There are authoritative new articles as well as several of the irreplaceable originals, the presentation is very handsome and a decided gain is the brilliantly chosen selection of production images, in colour as well as black and white. The Guides are an invaluable reference for opera lovers at any level. -- David Nice of The Arts Desk

About the Author

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.

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Book Info

Publication date

16th May 2011


Benjamin Britten

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Oneworld Classics Ltd an imprint of Alma Books Ltd


152 pages


Individual composers & musicians, specific bands & groups



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