Midsummer Nights by Jeanette Winterson (ed) - review by Patrick O’Connor

Patrick O’Connor

Opera Tales

Midsummer Nights


Quercus 329pp £18.99

Glyndebourne Festival Opera was the result of a shared passion. John Christie, the founder in 1934, built the opera house in the grounds of his mansion so that his wife, the vivacious soprano Audrey Mildmay, might appear in productions worthy of her talent. Seventy-five years on, this volume of short stories is published as part of the celebrations of the Christies’ endeavour, one which Jeanette Winterson describes as ‘a simple and heartfelt belief in music and its emotional power’. The brief to the nineteen writers involved was to ‘choose an opera, and from its music or its characters … or even a mood evoked, write a story’. The results are predictably varied, and perhaps inevitably, given the nature of opera plots, many veer towards something dark or tragic. 

Some of the writers have chosen to use the existing plots of an opera. In ‘To Die For’, Kate Atkinson spins an apparently ridiculous tale of a love affair between an American movie star called Skylar Schiller and a British royal prince, until one realises that it is

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