A Midsummer Night's Dream Review
By Mary Ellyn Hutton
The second night of the 2017 Cincinnati May Festival evoked a midsummer’s night Saturday evening at the Taft Theater.
There was the Incidental music to Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in a semi-staged setting, with the characters making entrances and exits in front of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, accompanied by atmospheric projections at the rear of the stage.
Also on the program were works by Frederick Delius and Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Leading it all was Matthew Halls, artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival.
The concert opened with Delius’ “Summer Night on the River” from “Two Pieces for Small Orchestra,” a peaceful, but somewhat melancholy work composed in 1911 (which might have illustrated scenes along the Ohio River.)
Following were two works by Vaughan Williams, Three Shakespeare Songs, composed in 1951: “Full Fathom Five,” “The Cloud-Capp’d Towers” and the sprightly “Over Hill, Over Dale,” featuring soprano Anya Tatanovic and mezzo-soprano Gina Perregrino. Also by Vaughan Williams was the lovely “Serenade to Music” (1938), the latter colored by strings, including violin solos by Kathryn Woolley, associate concert master of the CSO, and projections of the moon against a darkened sky.
Centerpiece of the program was the Incidental Music from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The often-performed Overture set the scene briskly. Illustrative projections by creative partner Gerard McBurney and designer Mike Tutaj followed Shakespeare’s play beautifully. Actors Jonathan Mastro (Puck), Susan Shunk (Hermia), Matthew Krause (Lysander/Egeus), Bradley Armacost (Bottom, in donkey garb and Pyramus), Roger Mueller (Theseus/ Oberon), Jill Shellabarger Mueller (Hyypolita/Titania) and Stephen O’Connell (Quince/Flue) delivered lines from the play, delivered colorfully and with great skill.
All in all, it was a superb night for the Festival and was received with great enthusiasm by the audience.
The Festival continues at 8 p.m. Sunday with the May Festival Youth Chorus and May Festival Chamber Choir at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington with works by Palestrina, Mendelssohn, Jacob Handl, Lodovico Viadana and Johann Sebastian Bach. Call 381-3300, or visit www.mayfestival.com