New York City Ballet
A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2009
Ballet in Two Acts and Six Scenes
Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers: George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief: Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress: Rosemary Dunleavy
Assistant to the Ballet Master in Chief: Sean Lavery
Children’s Ballet Master: Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director: Fayçal Karoui
Chairman of the board: John L. Vogelstein
Managing Dir. Communications and Special Projects: Robert Daniels
Assoc. Director Communications, Joe Guttridge
Assoc., Communications and Special Projects, Caitlin Gillette
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 20, 2009
(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).
(See a New York City Ballet Children’s Workshop for this Matinee)
Conductor: Maurice Kaplow
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1962): Music by Felix Mendelssohn, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by David Hays, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Teresa Reichlen as Titania, Gonzalo Garcia as Oberon, Sean Suozzi as Puck, Dena Abergel as Helena, Sterling Hyltin as Hermia, Robert Fairchild as Lysander, Ask la Cour as Demetrius, Savannah Lowery as Hippolyta, Jason Fowler as Theseus, Justin Peck as Titania’s Cavalier, Henry Seth as Bottom, Brittany Pollack as Butterfly, Janie Taylor and Tyler Angle in Divertissement, Singers: Erin Morley, Soprano, Alison Tupay, mezzo-soprano, and Chorus, Children from The School of American Ballet as Oberon’s Kingdom, Butterflies and Fairies, and the Company as Butterflies, Oberon’s and Titania’s Pages, Bottom’s Companions, Courtiers to Theseus, Titania’s Retinue, Hippolyta’s Hounds, Courtiers, and Divertissement Dancers.
The Mendelssohn ballet score includes music composed for the Shakespeare play, during a seventeen-year period, as well as a variety of overtures. The play relates adventures and misadventures, through reality and illusion, including requited and unrequited love, even between a fair queen and a donkey. Midsummer Night is June 23rd (St. John’s Eve), when fairies are present during the summer solstice of fertility rites and festivals. The 1595 play was also the source for a one-act Ashton ballet and a Britten opera. A Midsummer Night’s Dream was Balanchine’s first full-length ballet that he choreographed in the US, and it opened New York City Ballet’s first repertory season at Lincoln Center in 1964. (NYCB Notes).
I was joined today by my five-year-old niece, Camille, for this sumptuous and fanciful story ballet. We had earlier attended City Ballet’s Children’s Workshop, to experience what it’s like to be an onstage butterfly. She was enchanted throughout both Acts of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, all the way to the Promenade, where she was treated to a blue tiara and an expansive marble floor to reconstruct some of this lovely matinee ballet.
From the moment Maurice Kaplow lifted his baton, we were transported to a woodland scene, a forest near Athens, on Midsummer Eve, where Teresa Reichlen, as Titania, was wooed by Gonzalo Garcia, as Oberon, with a large feathery bed to rest on, right amidst the forest and flowers. The first Act is where the story of unrequited love unfolds, and the second Act is where love is requited and a wedding unfolds. In fact, Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March”, written as incidental music for Shakespeare’s play, comes to life in the Overture and Act II of this score. Balanchine fashioned the score from Mendelssohn’s Overture, incidental music, and other Mendelssohn pieces, such as a nocturne, intermezzo, and part of his Ninth Symphony.
As Titania, Ms. Reichlen was sublime, first filled with self-protection, later melting with ardor. As Oberon, Mr. Garcia was perfectly cast, playful, impetuous, lustful, and quite persistent. Both danced with theatrical gestures, as this matinee drew many young viewers. Sean Suozzi, as Puck, was impressive and not overly campy. His leaps and jumps were cat-like, silent, well formed. As the story goes, a long red rose, dusted against the face of a sleeping character, forces that character to fall in love with the first person he/she sees on awakening.
Today’s cast made much of those roses, and Helena (Dena Abergel), Demetrius (Ask la Cour), Hermia (Sterling Hyltin), and Lysander (Robert Fairchild), all fell in and out of love with each other, with silent-film-worthy racing about, chasing whomever they awoke to fall in love with. Of course, as this comedy proceeds, all is well at the conclusion, and couples are paired off as they should be. Those campy scenes were priceless. Of these four dancers, Dena Abergel and Ask la Cour seemed the most impassioned and persuasive. Savannah Lowery was a forceful Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, in a striking, stunning mythological motif. Jason Fowler, as Theseus, Duke of Athens, threw himself into the moment, and Brittany Pollack, as Butterfly, was omnipresent, lyrical, and ethereal, in this dreamlike ballet about a dream.
Justin Peck, as Titania’s Cavalier, will grow even more into the role. He was poised, chivalrous, and attentive. Henry Seth was a witty and warm Bottom, a donkey a child could love. He’s quite a character actor, and his Bottom was vulnerable and charismatic. In the Act II Divertissement, Janie Taylor stole the show, partnered aptly by Tyler Angle. Ms. Taylor danced with silk, gossamer, and dewdrop enchantment. She was a vision of the perfect dream, the character we’d all love to be, dancing in the midst of a midnight forest in June. Her torso bent backward in elegance, and her lifts were weightless. She was surreal. The children of SAB were adorable butterflies and fairies, running and scampering by the dozen, and the Corps kept the action busy, in the dimness of Act I and the glow of Act II.
The Act II Wedding scene, in the Court of Theseus in Athens, was very Balanchine-esque, with ensembles in dance designs that branched into moving patterns and figures that persistently engaged the eye. The solo singers and Chorus kept the Mendelssohn score textured and full, and Maestro Kaplow brought out the most in City Ballet Orchestra’s strings and horns. David Hays’ scenery is worth the experience alone, as are Karinska’s costumes, with wings, feathers, jewels, and silk. Mark Stanley had a large task in the shifting lighting, and he mastered it with expertise. Kudos to George Balanchine and City Ballet for this magical matinee.
Kudos to Peter Martins and New York City Ballet for a splendid Spring 2009 Season.
With Her NYC Ballet Shop Tiara
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower
With Her NYC Ballet Shop Tiara
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower