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Comparative Study - A Midsummer Night's Dream

             In this comparative study I will examine the representation of the magical creatures in two adaptations of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream: the eponymous video registration of Benjamin Britten's opera performed at the Glyndebourne Festival in 1981, conducted by Bernard Haitink, produced by Peter Hall and designed by John Bury, and Michael Hoffman's film adaptation of Shakespeare's play of 1999. I have chosen these two productions because they belong to two different cultural domains. Hoffman's film is a Hollywood product, intended for a broad audience and has been shown in cinemas across the world. Haitink, Hall and Bury's performance of Britten's opera was especially designed for the Glyndebourne Festival. Even within the opera culture Glyndebourne holds a special position. As critic Mary Duffy points out:.
             opera fans [] struggle to get to Glyndebourne, but tickets have always been virtually unobtainable. Much of the small house, 40 miles south of London, is presold to corporate or individual sponsors. For these wealthy people, an evening at Glyndebourne is a social rite, a rare chance to behave like a true English eccentric, ("Smiles of a Summer Night"). .
             Haitink, Hall and Bury's production thus belongs to the upper echelons of the elite opera domain. .
             One might say that the appearance of a play is for the larger part determined by the designer or director's imagination and that therefore artistic or cultural external influences are of lesser importance. It is the director or designer who selects the source materials and who shapes the performance. However, directors are as much a product of a cultural framework as their plays are. The choices of a director are unconsciously inspired by the spirit of the times and are not independent from their personal characteristics such as age, gender and social background. Because these factors are highly personal it is difficult to illustrate to what extent they influence an production, but one might consider what the relationship is between the play and the cultural framework.

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