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Adelaide Festival Opens With Australian Premiere Of Armfield’s ‘Dream’

Houston Grand Opera’s production by Neil Armfield of Benjamin Britten’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” receives its Australian premiere at the 2021 Adelaide Festival. Image credit Felix Sanchez

Adelaide Festival’s blockbuster opera centrepiece for 2021 is Benjamin Britten’s fantasy opera A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This highly anticipated production will be directed by Neil Armfield and make its Australian debut with an exclusive season at the Adelaide Festival.

Leading an outstanding cast of international and Australian singers is award-winning American countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen singing the role of Oberon. Nussbaum Cohen, who won a 2019 GRAMMY Award in the Best Classical Compendium category, is joined by Australian soprano Rachelle Durkin reprising her role as Tytania and New Zealand baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes as Theseus. Mezzo-soprano Sally-Anne Russell sings the role of Hermia, while renowned baritone and comedic expert Warwick Fyfe will play the hilarious Nick Bottom. Triple Helpmann Award-winning Kanen Breen plays Francis Flute. The non-singing role of Puck will be played by star of Australian film and theatre, the dazzling Mark Coles Smith, a Nyikina man from North Western Australia east of Broome.

Britten’s magically textured score underpins the confusing hilarity, mystery and eerie beauty of this production supported by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Australian Britten scholar Paul Kildea, Artistic Director of Musica Viva since 2019. Some of Britten’s most joyous and innovative music will be brought to life by a children’s chorus drawn from the ranks of the Young Adelaide Voices directed by Christie Anderson.

Weaving the entire production together is Neil Armfield AO, one of Australia’s leading international theatre and opera directors and Joint Artistic Director of the Adelaide Festival. Armfield’s affinity with Britten’s operas has been lauded worldwide with his productions of Billy Budd, Peter Grimes and The Turn of the Screw. This  co-production with Houston Grand Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera and Canadian Opera Company premiered at the Houston Grand Opera in Jan 2009, followed shortly after by performances in Toronto and Chicago.

Armfield describes Britten’s opera as “an opera of beauty and of joy,” adding “it’s very much about reconciliation and magic. We think it’s the perfect work to cheer us up and to remind us of the beauty of the world, the beauty of the imagination and the beauty of making theatre.”

Additional opportunities for audiences to see the opera will be made available through streaming services both in Adelaide and regional South Australia. The Adelaide Festival Summerhouse will host A Midsummer Night’s Dream on the Big Screen, where the audience will have the opportunity to access tickets for as little as $29. The opera will also be streamed into regional South Australia with venues across Mount Gambier, Port Pirie, Renmark and Whyalla involved for audiences outside Adelaide.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream will play at the Adelaide Festival Theatre with four performances running from Friday 26 February until Wednesday 3 March.

Cast and Creatives: Composer Benjamin Britten/ Libretto Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears after Shakespeare/ Adelaide Symphony Orchestra/ Conducted by Paul Kildea/ Directed by Neil Armfield/ Designer Dale Ferguson/ Lighting Designer Damien Cooper/ Choreographer/Associate Director Denni Sayers
The Fairies Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen as Oberon/ Rachelle Durkin as Tytania/Mark Coles Smith as Puck/With Young Adelaide Voices Directed by Christie Anderson
The Royals Teddy Tahu Rhodes as Theseus/Fiona Campbell as Hyppolita
The Lovers Andrew Goodwin as Lysander/Sally-Anne Russell as Hermia/James Clayton as Demetrius/Leanne Kenneally as Helena
The Mechanicals Warwick Fyfe as Bottom/Kanen Breen as Flute/Douglas McNicol as Quince/Pelham Andrews as Snug/Norbert Hohl as Snout/Jeremy Tatchell as Starveling

Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre /Fri 26 Feb, 7pm/Sun 28 Feb, 4:30pm/Tue 2 Mar, 6pm/Wed 3 Mar, 6pm
2hrs 55mins including interval Performed in English with English surtitles

Book at adelaidefestival.com.au or BASS 131 246.
Premium $289, Friends $249,
A Reserve $219, Friends $185, Conc* $175
B Reserve $189, Friends $160, Conc* $152, Under 30 $90, Full-time Student** $80
C Reserve $149, Friends $127, Conc* $120, Under 30 $70, Full-time Student** $60
Transaction fees apply
*Conc = Pensioner, Unemployed MEAA Equity
**Student = requires full-time student ID Friends of Adelaide Festival receive 15% discount on all ticketing and access to a priority booking period
A Midsummer Night’s Dream on the Big Screen
Adelaide Festival Summerhouse/ Sun 28 Feb, 8pm
Tickets $29 / Friends $25 /Transaction fees apply
Book at adelaidefestival.com.au or BASS 131 246.

Regional South Australia/Sun 28 Feb, 4:30pm
Tickets $29/Transaction fees apply
Book at adelaidefestival.com.au or www.countryarts.org.au/a-midsummer-nights-dream-livestream/

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