Opera in three acts, op. 64
Period of composition: Oct 1959 - May 1960
Revised: Jul-Aug 1960
First performance: 11 Jun 1960 >>
Type of performance: Staged performance
Location: Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh, Aldeburgh Festival
Performance details:

Alfred Deller Oberon, Jennifer Vyvyan Tytania, Leonide Massine II Puck, Forbes Robinson Theseus, Johanna Peters Hippolyta, George Maran Lysander, Thomas Hemsley Demetrius, Marjorie Thomas Hermia, April Cantelo Helena, Owen Brannigan Bottom, Norman Lumsden Quince, Peter Pears Flute, David Kelly Snugg, Edward Byles Snout, Joseph Ward Starveling, Kevin Platts Cobweb, Michael Bauer Peaseblossom, Robert McCutcheon Mustardseed, Barry Ferguson Moth, EOG orchestra

John Cranko prod, John Piper design (assisted by Carl Toms), William Bundy technical director, Benjamin Britten cond

Genre: Stage work
Text: Libretto adapted from William Shakespeare by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears
Performing forces:

Principals: Oberon counter-ten (or contr), Tytania colatura sop, Puck boy acrobat, speaking role, Theseus bass, Hippolyta contr, Lysander ten, Demetrius bar, Hermia mez, Helena sop, Bottom bass-bar, Quince bass, Flute ten, Snug bass, Snout ten, Starveling bar, Fairies (Cobweb, Peaseblossom, Mustardseed, Moth) trbls

Chorus of Fairies (trbls or sops)

Orchestra: 2 fl (=picc), ob (=ca), 2 cl in A & B flat, bn - 2 hn, tpt in D, trbn - 2 perc (trgl, cymb, tamb, gong, 2 wb, vibr, block, xyl, tamburo in F sharp alto, sd, td, bd, timp, 2 bells in G sharp and F sharp - 2 harps, hpd (=cel) - str (minimum:

Stage band: sopranino rec, small cymb, 2 wb

Duration: 144'

Act I: 47 mins;

Act II: 48 mins;

Act III: 49 mins

Dedication: 'Dedicated to Stephen Reiss'

Stephen Reiss (1918-1999), British arts administrator, art historian and art dealer. General Manager of the Aldeburgh Festival, 1955-1971, and served as General Manager for the English Opera Group, 1958-1961.


  • Act I >>

    [Scene] (The wood - deepening twilight)

  • Act II >>

    [Scene] (The wood. Tytania lying asleep.)

  • Act III >>

    [Scene] (The wood - early next morning - Tytania with Bottom, and the four lovers lying asleep.)