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NIU Opera Theater presents ‘Fairy Queen’

March 12, 2012

Photo of a woman costumed as a fairyThe NIU School of Music’s Opera Theater, in collaboration with the NIU School of Theatre and Dance, will present two performances of “The Fairy Queen” by Henry Purcell.

Performances are scheduled at 8 p.m. Friday, March 30, and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 1, in the Boutell Memorial Concert Hall of the NIU Music Building at 400.

First performed in 1692, “The Fairy Queen” is a semi-opera (or dramatic opera), an early form of opera from the English Baroque that combines spoken plays with interludes of singing and dancing.

It is considered by many to be Purcell’s greatest work in this form.

At the beginning of the 20th century, “The Fairy Queen” was rediscovered after being neglected for 200 years. The plot is a re-imagining of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Purcell did not set any of Shakespeare’s verse to music; rather, he composed music for short masques, or musical interludes, in every act but the first.

In NIU’s version, the lovers leave the confines of Duke Theseus’ arbitrary and harsh Athens. They act out their lover’s spats in an enchanted, yet run down, forest. Also a group of amateur actors meet in that same wood to rehearse a play for the Duke. They want to be away from the distractions of the town.

None of them realizes that they all have stumbled into the middle of a feud between the king and queen of the fairies. They are fighting over an adopted child whom both wants as a follower. The world of the fairies is in turmoil and out of sorts; its “woods” are a reflection of a run-down and abandoned junkyard where once-bright objects have rusted and grown moss and vines.

Tickets are $10 general admission and $7 for non-NIU students. NIU students are free with a valid NIU ID. Tickets are sold at the door or can be reserved in advance at (815) 753-1551.