Part of what makes Pacific Opera Victoria’s (POV) upcoming production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream so special is Victoria itself, according to Daniel Ellis.
“From my outsider perspective, Victoria feels like a bit of a flowery, fairy kingdom,” said Ellis, a Toronto based actor who arrived in Victoria March 22 for the opera production. “The bits of the landscape that I’ve had the time to explore, it captures that for me. It celebrates this really great city here in a strange way.”
Ellis just graduated from the National Theatre school in Montreal this past May, but already he is building up a repertoire in the theatre community. He was brought specifically to Victoria to play Puck — a fairy in the Shakespearean production.
“He’s fantastic,” said stage director Tom Diamond. “Puck’s a very physical role, and he nailed it.”
POV is one of Canada’s most renowned operas, and it attracts performers from around the globe. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is no exception, and Ellis counts himself lucky to be part of the performance, which has more than100 singers, actors, orchestra members and stage crew involved in the production.
The performance tells the story of a spat between the king and queen of the fairies that spills into humanity, creating a tangled web of magic induced love affairs in its wake.
For Ellis, it’s the first time performing in an opera.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays,” he said. “Puck is a really fantastic fun role. He is a fairy servant and a little mischievous trickster, and I identify with that myself in some ways.”
Ellis admits he’s never seen a live opera and assumed they can be long and difficult to understand. But A Midsummer Night’s Dream is different since it’s so immersive and engaging.
“You can access it easier than how I imagine other operas aren’t as accessible. Also it’s a really fun funny story,” Ellis said.
The performance will also enter the fourth dimension where the singers will be amongst the crowd. It’s scheduled to be a three-hour show with two intermissions.
Even in three hours, it won’t be a full rendition of the original Shakespeare.
“In the operatic world, if we did the entire Shakespearean play, we would be in the theatre for twelve hours,” said Diamond. “It takes longer to sing something, than it does to say something.”
The Pacific Opera Victoria’s rendition of Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream opens Thursday at the Royal Theatre and runs until Sunday, April 24.