Les Arts Florissants: The Fairy Queen

A Part of the WFMT Radio Network Opera Series

Above: William Christie, conductor / Credit: Les Arts Florissants

For cast lists and playlists, please visit the Opera Series Overview.

Feel free to call it a gala, this evening of opera. One: with William Christie and Les Arts Florissants, there is early music royalty on stage. Two: the already legendary eminences bring the stars of the future with them – 11 young singers building their way to the top in Christie’s opera academy Le Jardin des Voix. Three: the music of Purcell, the Orpheus Britannicus who pretty much single-handedly colored the picture of the English Baroque.

The Fairy Queen is perhaps Purcell’s best-loved work and at the same time also an ode to William Shakespeare. His A Midsummer Night’s Dream is fitted with a Baroque twist, a century after the fact. Power, refinement, melancholy, and humor: this gem has lost nothing of its enchantment.



By order of Duke Theseus, Demetrius must marry Hermia, even though he actually loves Helena. At the same time, Hermia is in love with Lysander. The four lovers escape from the town. In a forest nearby a group of tradesmen are rehearsing a play to celebrate the wedding. Titania (the Fairy Queen) has argued with Oberon (the Fairy King) over an Indian boy. In a masque, Titania’s retinue of fairies entertains her with music before teasing a drunken poet who has entered the forest.


Oberon and Puck (his right-hand fairy) prepare a love potion distilled from a flower. In the second masque, Titania’s fairies sing to her, before she is lulled to sleep by Night, Mystery, and Secrecy. Puck then administers the love potion to Titania and to the lovers.


Lysander and Demetrius are now both in love with Hermia. The tradesmen rehearse and one of them, Bottom, is turned into an ass by Puck. Titania awakes and falls in love with him. She entertains him with a masque of love in which two rustics, Coridon and Mopsa, flirt with each other.


Oberon restores the true lovers back to each other, Bottom returns to human form, and Titania is released from her enchantment. Oberon and Titania’s reconciliation (and his birthday) are celebrated in a masque of the seasons.


Duke Theseus discovers the lovers and agrees to marry them as they wish. Oberon and Titania appear. In the final masque – a celebration of the state of matrimony – the goddess Juno blesses the lovers and a Chinese entertainment takes place, followed by a monkey dance, before Hymen, the god of marriage, draws the proceedings to a close.

Summary and synopsis courtesy of Utrecht Early Music Festival.


About Les Arts Florissants:
Founded in 1979 by William Christie, Les Arts Florissants is one of the best-known baroque music ensembles in the world. Established in the name of creativity, pleasure, and sharing, the Ensemble — which takes its name from a short opera by Marc-Antoine Charpentier — has played a pioneering role in the revival of a repertoire that had been largely forgotten and which is now enjoyed across the globe in all the most prestigious concert houses. This pioneering spirit has never died, and Les Arts Florissants’ two artistic directors, William Christie and Paul Agnew, continue the Ensemble’s tradition of research and innovation today.


About the Host:
Lisa Flynn has been a program host and producer for WFMT since 1991. She presents The New Releases and has hosted many programs for the WFMT Radio Network, including War Letters (which won the 2002 Peter Lisagor Award) and a series of live broadcasts from Salzburg to celebrate Mozart’s 250th birthday in 2006. As WFMT’s midday weekday announcer, Lisa hosts live studio performances and interviews guest artists including Renée Fleming, John Adams, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, John Eliot Gardiner, and many others. Before coming to Chicago, Lisa presented classical music at WOSU in Columbus, Ohio, and at WMFE and WUCF in Orlando, Florida. She holds a music degree from the University of Central Florida.

This program is a part of the WFMT Radio Network Opera Seriesa series designed to complement the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts to fill out the year with great Opera content. The series begins in June and lasts until December.


Category: Operas
Duration: 2-hour / Varies by Opera
Frequency: Flexible
Availability: 06/15/2024 - 06/29/2024

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