Promotional image for A Fairy Queen.
Credit: Kel Millionie/IN Series

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A Fairy Queen

So you’re pro-mask? Great! But are you pro-masque? As in, do you like early modern plays with music, song, and dance interludes? If so, the IN Series, an innovative D.C. arts organization that straddles the worlds of theater and opera, has created the perfect pandemic podcast just for you. A Fairy Queen, a radio play mashup of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream that draws from Henry Purcell’s 1692 semi-opera The Fairy-Queen, is now available to stream on Spotify or to download through the IN Series’ website. Artistic director Timothy Nelson devised the project, which features arias and abridged sections of the play underscored with Purcell’s music. WBJC radio host (and bass singer) John T.K. Scherch serves as a cheeky narrator, setting up the action for Titania, Oberon, Puck, the human lovers of Athens, and the rude mechanicals. A cast of eight singers, recorded in London and Baltimore, take on multiple roles in what amounts to more than 200 minutes of content—perfect for a Baroque road trip! Intense listening is not required, however; the music (featuring musicians in both Maryland and the Netherlands) is remarkably pleasant, and many Shakespearean zingers stand out, including Puck’s classic diss, “What fools these mortals be!” He’s right. There are some real idiots around. So keep masking up, and when you have a moment, give this masque a chance. The podcast is available on Spotify. Free. —Rebecca J. Ritzel