Yes, it's a feel-good opera, isn't it? The celebratory nature of the work is contagious; you can't help but join in the fun. Even the sad parts can't detract from that. Joyce DiDonato is a true wonder; what she can do with her voice is amazing. The decision to take Shakespeare's casual mention of Sycorax and turn her into a leading character was well justified. I was also quite taken with mezzo Elizabeth DeShong as Hermia; I don't remember ever hearing her before.
Two things I would take issue with. One is Danielle deNiese's performance as Ariel. She overacted terribly, even for this kind of make-believe opera. She had a lot of good stage business, though, and that helped. But she had to yell her top notes, and she has a habit of swallowing the last note or two of a musical phrase. I don't know whether she ran out of breath or whether she was lagging a half-beat behind the orchestra or if that's just her singing style -- whichever, it grated on me. Through no fault of her own, DeNiese wore the only jarring costume in the production. Ariel is a sprite
, not some overornamented gilded Buddha. Grumble.
The other thing I'd take issue with is the original parts of the libretto. One example: "If it's consoling, it will be rolling over hill and field..." Urg.
Depends what you mean by recent, Barbara. In 1991, Paul Griffiths put together a whole lot of Mozart arias, some written for other composers' works, some just concert arias, some substitute arias in his own operas in a (rather boring) commedia dell'arte plot. It was called The Jewel Box:
Yes, I'd call that recent. I vaguely remember reading something about a "Mozart Project", but I didn't realize it had resulted in a completed opera. Boring plot, huh? Have you seen a performance?