A dream collaboration

25 November 2021
The Con and NIDA present A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Shakespeare's most loved comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, adapted into an opera by Benjamin Britten, is a co-production by, and the final year performance for students from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the National Institute of Dramatic Art.

The production brings together students from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (SCM) and the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), SCM performers and musicians bring the characters to life on stage, with this production mounted by NIDA. The production offers a unique experience and extended knowledge to all students involved, and answers a need for specialised integrated multi-disciplinary performing arts training in Australia.

“It is with absolute delight that the students from the SCM are collaborating with joint creative work with students from NIDA,” said Professor Anna Reid, Head of School and Dean, Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

We hope through this experience they will each come to appreciate each other’s art, their contribution to performance practice, and make good friends to seed future collaborations.
Professor Anna Reid, Head of School and Dean, Sydney Conservatorium of Music

“This production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream marks the beginning of a significant collaboration between NIDA and SCM.”

Britten preserved and captured every comic nuance of the play creating a musical masterpiece filled with graceful haunting melodies, lively orchestration, perfect harmony, and powerful vocal textures, providing opportunity for the individual players to shine, for characterisation, and also for portraying humour. 

SCM student and countertenor, Michael Burden will be singing the role of Oberon – The King of the Fairies.

“Oberon is one of those bucket list roles that every countertenor aspires to one day perform. To be tackling this role at a key stage in my development as an artist is something that really excites me; and something that I feel very privileged to be able to undertake,” said Michael.

“The union of two endlessly creative minds in Shakespeare and Britten has resulted in a true operatic gem; and to breathe life into this score with the profoundly real and gritty vision of Kate Gaul is just the cherry on top of the cake!”  

The countertenor voice type is a rare oddity when compared to the more traditionally gendered voices of sopranos, altos, tenors and basses – it’s best described as a male soprano or alto voice. However, it is precisely this rarity and peculiarity of voice that first inspired Britten to compose the role of Oberon for a countertenor.

Alfred Deller premiered the role in 1960, and it was his voice and this opera that marks the genesis of the operatic countertenor. Michaels says: “The fact that I’m able to pursue a career in opera owes much to many, the support of the Sydney Conservatorium for one, but I am hugely indebted to the trailblazing writing of Britten and singing of Deller in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  It certainly feels as if I'm stepping into this legacy of countertenors in this production, and frankly that is so exciting to me.”

“To have the expertise and support of the incredible NIDA production team has been invaluable in realising this opera. The dedication of both NIDA and Con students in every aspect of this show has consistently floored me, even in lockdown!

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a delight for all the senses. There is so much to see, to hear, to feel in this show, and you will certainly emerge as transformed as those within this operatic forest.” 

The opera is conducted by Stephen Mould, Artistic Director of the SCM’s Con Opera. Award-winning opera director Kate Gaul, Artistic Director of Siren Theatre Co, brings her contemporary vision to the production.


Opening night 4 December, 7pm

7 December, 7pm

9 December, 11am

11 December, 2pm

NIDA Parade Theatre, Anzac Parade, Kensington

The Sydney Conservatorium of Music acknowledges the generous support of the Alan Hyland and John Luscombe Endowment



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