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Cover Art
Author Godsalve, William H. L., 1913-

Title Britten's A midsummer night's dream : making an opera from Shakespeare's comedy / William H. L. Godsalve.

Published Madison [N.J.] : Fairleigh Dickinson University Press ; London ; Cranbury, NJ : Associated University Presses, [1995]


Location Call No. Status
Physical description 237 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (pages 223-226) and index.
Contents 1. Introduction -- 2. Restructuring the Play: Aims and Options -- 3. Reshaping the Libretto -- 4. Cutting the Text and Other Adjustments: Options and Decisions.
Summary This book is the visualization of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears in 1959-60 as they labored to adapt Shakespeare's comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, for the operatic stage. This book is designed to attract general readers and to interest opera-lovers, amateurs of English literature and music, students, and academic scholars. Not a "how-to" book about writing opera, it is rather a "how-did" study of a genius making the score of a musical masterpiece, the blueprint for a performance of a mid-twentieth-century romantic chamber opera in English, which has been internationally successful and critically acclaimed since 1960.
Britten, colibrettist as well as composer, largely preserved the source text. He considered operatic conventions critically: this work inquires whether and why he followed or flouted them. He named the distinct steps in his opera-making but not his reasons for choosing among the wide literary and musical options. Godsalve fleshes out Britten's promotional and other ancillary comments - usually agreeing but sometimes not. The opinions of many critics are cited: they usually shed favorable light on Britten's "remaking." The reader is free and encouraged to indulge in the pleasure of arriving at an independent judgment. The study touches on cultural influences other than the aesthetic. As argued in the final chapter, Britten, with Pears, succeeded in writing an aesthetically attractive opera by constructing a new, strong dramatic design (albeit with flaws) and in applying masterly techniques to the details of putting the old drama into new music.
Subject Britten, Benjamin, 1913-1976. Midsummer night's dream.
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616 -- Adaptations -- History and criticism.
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. Midsummer night's dream.
ISBN 0838635512 (alk. paper)