‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ with music at Strathmore Arts Center


Linda Powell played Titania and Hippolyta in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Folger Theatre. (Courtesy of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra)
May 30, 2014

Mendelssohn and Shakespeare shared the Strathmore Arts Center stage on Thursday where the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Folger Theatre collaborated on a romp through scenes from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” embedded in the glow and the energy of Mendelssohn’s incidental music.

With seven actors taking on 20 roles, a pair of soloists, the women of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society and a simple set — four chairs up front and a chaise lounge almost hidden upstage of the basses — you might think that things would have been a little crowded, but not so. The action, moved mostly east/west across the stage; costume changes (a shoulder wrap here, a flashy vest there) happened in full view and the orchestra musicians escaped unscathed as Helena chased Demetrius, Lysander chased Helena, and Puck scurried around sprinkling his love-juice on the wrong eyelids.

Marin Alsop led an assured performance, beautifully coordinated with the goings-on around her and, although the strings sounded a little fuzzy around the edges in the scherzo passages, the winds had a wonderful outing, splendidly balanced and focused. Cody Nickel’s Bottom, Spencer Aste’s Puck and Linda Powell as both an imperious Hippolyta and a magnificently sexy Titania took charge of much of the fun.

But the amplification! This is a big hall where a solo violin sounds like it’s coming from somewhere north of Rockville, so there is no doubt that the actors had to be miked — but did it have to be so loud that they overbalanced the orchestra? .

Reinthaler is a freelance writer.

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