17 March 2016
Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall
Royal College of Music,
Prince Consort Road,
London SW7 2BS
Hermia, Helena, Lysander and Demetrius are studying in London, each living in an area of the city that characterises them. Lysander and Hermia are in a relationship, but Demetrius, who once loved Helena, now favours Hermia, whose father encourages this union. Helena is still besotted with Demetrius who refuses her favours with scorn.
The trendy couple Oberon and Titania works and lives in a world surrounded by technology. They are the creators of a mobile dating app, PUCK, that matches people to create couples. After an acrimonious fight about the app's ownership, Oberon inflicts revenge on Titania by reprogramming PUCK so that Titania falls in love with anything and anyone she comes across.
Later on, at the tube station, Oberon witnesses the four young lovers arguing about their unfulfilled feelings. Using his power to match and mismatch couples, Oberon decides to use PUCK to reshape their destiny.
When the young composers, Mahlon Berv (USA) and Benjamien Lycke (Belgium) met in 2014 on their postgraduate course Composition for Screen, they shared a passion for opera, and decided to jointly compose a new work at the Royal College of Music. Here they are! As an homage to the infinitely rich, imaginative, and inspiring city they lived in for two years, as well as to the great musicians, writers, designers, and friends they met and worked with as part of their experience in London, PUCK Opera is their gift to the city.
Keen on engaging the city’s young, curious and adventurous new generation of opera-goers/lovers, Mahlon and Benjamien teamed up with the London based emerging writer, poet and librettist Laura Attridge. Together, they decided to explore the lives of young people living in London today by revisiting Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. The interdisciplinary nature of the piece led the team to grow quickly. It is now composed of professional artists from many different parts of the world (United Kingdom, France, Belgium, America) and of students from three of the most active universities of London’s artistic and cultural scene (Royal College of Music, King's College London, Royal College of Arts).
As part of the Great Exhibitionist Series, the team chose to address the issue of technology as a central theme through which the plot evolves. The use of technology is central to the lives of young people in the 21st century, and this will be reflected in the characters' experiences and the issues addressed. How do technological devices which seem to control one's daily routine interfere with one's imaginative life? To what extent are these technologies influencing or commanding essential life choices? New technologies become the framework through which to rethink essential notions such as free will, imagination, love and youth in the context of one of the most hectic cities of the world. PUCK Opera is a constant to-ing and fro-ing between our imaginative life and our actual life, between a figurative and an abstract representation of the world.
On the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death
What better time to explore A Midsummer Night's Dream than during the celebration of 400 years of Shakespeare? The Bard's plays have received countless adaptations, interpretations and re-imaginations via numerous art forms, and it is a testament to his genius that it can be just as thrilling to approach his text after all this time. It is particularly exciting to tackle this play through a collaboration between artists of different crafts – opera, theatre, dance and graphic design – and to discover new elements of the piece where these disciplines meet to form a creative dialogue. The timeless nature of Shakespeare's work means it can be re-appropriated no matter the setting; we found great value in adapting the piece for London 2016, placing original text alongside contemporary writing and composition, as well as translating sections into expression through wordless music and dance. The joy of PUCK is that a contemporary audience can enjoy the piece whether or not they are familiar with the original, and with or without a working knowledge of theatre, opera or dance.