Q&A: Director Jonathan Kent on The Fairy Queen
What brought you back to Glyndebourne to restage The Fairy Queen in 2012?
It's a great celebratory piece which we devised for the 350th anniversary of Purcell and the 75th anniversary of Glyndebourne but, because it contains so many disparate elements, (dance, text and music among other areas) it's endlessly challenging to control and unify all those disciplines in to a single arc of an evening.
With you in a directorial role and Paul Brown as designer, this production looks set to be a magical brew, tell us more?
It's a quintessentially English piece that combines a Restoration version of A Midsummer Night's Dream and some of the most beautiful music written in the last 350 years. In this year of the Olympics, it seemed appropriate to celebrate something so indelibly English.
We have heard rumours of bonking bunnies and rampant rabbits on stage, what else can we expect?
The piece, in all its English eccentricity, veers between the lyrically sublime and a sort of Carry On, Benny Hill vulgarity. This is what gives The Fairy Queen its unique vigour.
As director, what's the greatest challenge in staging a revival?
It's not a ready-made structured piece and the fact that it has so many elements and disciplines within it, it demands someone who has worked in theatre and in music. Its baggy, capacious form is not something that is set and could simply be revived as it was and in any case when it's possible, I think directors should always oversee their own work.
Under your directorship in 2009, The Fairy Queen was brilliantly received, is it nerve wracking to restage such a popular production?
I suppose in 2009 it was revelatory, in that it had not been done in such a complete form for centuries, and contrived to be entertaining and delightful. Now, as an operatic revival at Glyndebourne, that element of surprise has gone. However, and, without being too corny, it's a celebration of all the absurdity and glory of being alive and being in love. Who could resist that?