Sunday, 21 June 2015
A Midsummer Night's Dream - I Know a Bank
I Know a Bank Near Tweed Towers
It is midsummer's night and something is stirring in the woods near to the grounds of Tweed Towers. Not wishing to be a stickybeak, but I think we need to take a torch and have a look-see. I'm going out in my Derek Rose Amalfi short pyjamas, but I'm putting my (old Scottish-made) Hunters on as it's a bit overgrown and muddy out there. You need to be quiet and walk in single file. We don't want to disturb the proceedings.
Why, it is Oberon the King of the Faeries! He is instructing Puck to bring him a flower — specifically the viola tricolor or 'come-and-cuddle-me' — with properties in its 'juice' to induce love at first sight. Let's see what he has to say:
In Britten's 1960 opera of Shakespeare's play, A Midsummer's Night Dream, the faeries — Oberon in particular — are given fittingly ethereal musical accompaniment; Oberon with celeste (or celesta) and harp in a role that was originally created for Alfred Deller.
In the clip above, David Daniels plays Oberon in an enchanting 2005 performance in Barcelona. The opera is staged rather sweetly on a charmingly-lit set that resembles a large, welcoming bed. This dreamily imaginative opera production by Opéra National de Lyon is available on DVD [Amazon].
Let the music flow over you, gin and viola tricolor juice in hand, on a sultry summer night.
You don't hear it used often in popular music, but I associate summer with the soft chime-bar sound of a celeste thanks to Britten's opera. But what do we know of this instrument? Let's ask Elizabeth Burley of London's Philharmonica Orchestra to explain:
I think we learned something there. And they say The Tweed Pig is just an organ of inconsequential persiflage.