A Midsummer Night's Dream: Shakespeare, Purcell, Mendelssohn and Britten

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Shakespeare's comedy has been an inspiration to composers over the centuries. Its colourful variety of fairies, courtiers, lovers and comics appealed to the 17th-century Purcell (his semi-opera The Fairy Queen, 1692), the 19th-century Mendelssohn (his incidental music for the play, 1826) and 20th-century Britten (his opera of 1960), all pure magic!

Course Programme

Friday 3 August 2012

Please plan to arrive between 4:30 and 6:30. You can meet other course members in the bar which opens at 6:15. Tea and Coffee making facilities are available in the study bedrooms.

19:15 Dinner
20:30 Introduction to the weekend followed by the play’s the thing, its musical potentials as realised by Purcell, Mendelssohn and Benjamin Britten.
22:00 Terrace bar open for informal discussion

Saturday 4 August 2012

08:00 Breakfast
09:00 Purcell and Britten: The Fairy Queen 1692 London, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1960, Aldeburgh, Suffolk.
10:30 Coffee
11:00 Mendelssohn’s Overture, 1826, first performed 1827, and incidental music for the play 1842, first performed 1843
13:00 Lunch
14:00 Free
16:00 Tea
4.30 Music for The Court, The Lovers, The Fairies, The Mechanicals, as presented by the three composers.
19:15 Dinner
20:30 Glyndebourne’s production of Purcell’s semi-opera on DVD (2009) and Britten’s opera on DVD (1981) conducted by Bernard Haitink, directed by Peter Hall.
22:00 Terrace bar open for informal discussion

Sunday 5 August 2012

08:00 Breakfast
09:00 Further opportunities to continue our study of the three composers and Shakespeare, leading to class discussions and group questions
10:30 Coffee
11:00 Class discussion and group questions continued
13:00 Lunch

The course will disperse after lunch


pdf Application form

pdf Course material


Unless otherwise stated, teaching and assessment for ICE courses are in English. Students whose first language is not English should refer to the Competence in the English Language Policy for further guidance.

Printable versions of our brochures are available to download from the Institute Publications page.

Pre-enrolment information

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Admissions Team
Madingley Hall
United Kingdom
CB23 8AQ

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01223 746262

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Course details

Start date

3 August 2012 (19:15)

End date

5 August 2012 (14:00)

Course code



1 weekend


Institute of Continuing Education
University of Cambridge
Madingley Hall, Madingley
United Kingdom
CB23 8AQ

Accommodation fees

Single room: £110
Double/Twin room (per person, 2 people sharing): £90

Qualifications / Credits