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​Magic in the air: ​NDSU Opera unfolds ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Theatre | May 6th, 2015

Photo by Kim Hill

Summer is not even here yet, but NDSU Opera is already taking us there.

The university opera company has “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” lined up for the stage, combining Shakespeare, opera and an enormous ensemble for one of NDSU Performing Arts’ last productions of 2014-2015. Cutting the story back a bit for this operatic telling, one aspect of this art form sticks out most of all to the director.

“The music is very difficult,” director Tara Faircloth said, “very vocally and rhythmically and tonally challenging.”

Adding that the music has an “atmospheric” feeling that “whisks away” the viewer to Shakespeare’s magical wood, Faircloth said “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is an opera unlike any other.

Twenty-five principle characters help guide the show, which, for NDSU Opera, is not what Faircloth calls a “park-and-bark,” where performers stand and sing.

This opera gets physical.

Jumping on people’s backs. Throwing chairs around. Violence. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is always moving.

“I think a lot of people, when they think opera, they just imagine a lot of stand around and sing (sic),” Faircloth said. “We call that ‘park-and-bark’ in our industry, and I am not a fan.”

Along with its rush of movement, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” also features an imaginative design that helps tell the story.

“We set the entire thing in a child’s bedroom,” Faircloth said, “and the wallpaper and bed comforter are all jungle print. It’s like a forest.”

After all, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” takes place in a forest. But whose dream is it?

“I think it’s a child’s dream,” Faircloth said, expounding on her bedroom design.

Faircloth is no stranger to NDSU Opera or the university itself. She has collaborated with theater department head Rooth Varland for 10 years, and this comic opera is the latest in a decade of teamwork.

Faircloth is also one of the few female opera directors in the nation, referring to the craft of directing as “a certain boys’ club,” but adding that anyone with the passion to do the work can be hired, particularly in recent years.

“Opera is also a very small biz. The professional world is very small,” she said. “I’ve probably met all the working, female directors in America. There’s the older people … and then the ladies that are more my age. Many of us came up together … We’re kind of a (network).”

With “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” all performance decisions are on the director, and Faircloth, describing this show as the “ultimate ensemble” opera, knows the task at hand.

“I think this show is going to be visually and musically super interesting.”

IF YOU GO

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
7:30 p.m. Fri., 2 p.m. Sun.
NDSU’s Festival Concert Hall
701-231-7969 

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