Friday, September 10, 2004


Had the opportunity to watch the A Midsummer Night’s Dream on PBS yesterday. I had been waiting for that exquisite chance for a long time, not only because the play is enchanting beyond description, but more importantly because the music is by Mendelssohn, one of my favourites, whose creations I have been listening to for many years. It has been immortalized by inclusion of its last movement, the Wedding March in weddings. That’s the piece usually played right after the groom kisses the bride (and vice versa) I was waiting to connect the music with the story, and the play lived up to it in every measure possible. The characters are endearing, the dances are among the most graceful I have seen, and the general ethos is just like a dream, free from the troubles of man, and saturated with every element that makes for a great fantasy.
The first movement, and the one which is the longest in duration, launches you straight into the fray of the comical love stories of the main protagonists; Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia, Oberon, Titania and Puck (Puck is a generic term for a type of supernatural being present in Celtic mythology and in English folklore. Commonly, the Puck was an amoral spirit or imp which played arbitrary tricks on people). For years, Puck was featured at the top of many Sunday comics, with the banner “What fools these mortals be”. Shakespeare’s choice of such a unique combination of characters from Greek, Roman and Celtic mythology greatly enhances the eclectic charm of the play. Unlike many of his other plays, this one is not about great metaphysical truths or about quintessentially typical immortal characters. A midsummer night’s dream is essentially a play to be enjoyed, and Mendelssohn seems to have perfectly realized this truth when he composed the music. It is a tribute to his virtuosity that, in this process, he created a piece which is far from trivial in its character, and has charmed audiences for centuries now. The fast pace of the first movement reminds one of someone who is always in a hurry, yet in a hurry which is predisposed for a specific function, something like the combination of Wordsworth’s daffodils pleading to play with the wind, while the wind dances teasingly around them, and Alice’s rabbit who comically rushes down his rabbit hole. However, listening carefully, especially to the slow violin interludes also gives the impression of a slow and studied motive in the air.
The ‘Dance of the Fairies’ and the ‘Dance of the Clowns’ weave a magic of their own and allude to the innocent mischief played by Puck, who creates a comedy of errors when he makes the wrong persons fall in love with each other. Overall, the music totally complements the play. The last movement ‘Wedding March’ rightly reminds one of a time of celebration, when all matters are resolved, and all ends well. The play and the music finally leave you wishing that life were like that…


Blogger Sumedha said...

Hey, it's the groom, not the broom :-)

2:46 PM  
Blogger Ashutosh said...

Sorry! That was an interesting mistake!...:)

3:33 PM  

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