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.