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New York City Ballet: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
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
Children’s Ballet Master, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Fayçal Karoui
Managing Dir. Communications & Special Projects, Robert Daniels
Manager, Media Relations, Katharina Plumb
Assoc., Communications &Special Projects, Caitlin Gillette
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 6, 2012

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Andrews Sill

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, Adam Hendrickson as Puck, Rebecca Krohn as Helena, Sterling Hyltin as Hermia, Jonathan Stafford as Lysander, Zachary Catazaro as Demetrius, Ana Sophia Scheller as Hippolyta, Joshua Thew as Theseus, Ask la Cour as Titania’s Cavalier, Christian Tworzyanski as Bottom, Brittany Pollack as Butterfly, Megan Fairchild and Sébastien Marcovici in Divertissement, Singers: Bridget Hogan, Soprano, Margaret Peterson, 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).

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. Adam Hendrickson, 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 (Rebecca Krohn), Demetrius (Zachary Catazaro), Hermia (Sterling Hyltin), and Lysander (Jonathan Stafford), 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. Ms. Hyltin caught my eye with her total absorption of the role. 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, Ms. Krohn and Mr. Catazaro seemed the most impassioned and persuasive. Ana Sophia Scheller was a forceful Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, whipping in fouettés, in stunning mythological motif. Joshua Thew, 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.

Ask la Cour, as Titania’s Cavalier, is elegantly cast, as always, in the role. He was poised, chivalrous, and attentive. Christian Tworzyanski was a witty and warm Bottom, a donkey a child could love. His Bottom was vulnerable and charismatic. In the Act II Divertissement, Megan Fairchild stole the show, partnered aptly by Sébastien Marcovici. Ms. Fairchild danced with spritely, whimsical, energized enchantment. 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 colorful and vibrant, while Andrews Sill brought out the tones of City Ballet Orchestra’s strings and horns. David Hays’ pink-green-gossamer 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. The audience was laughing and appeared audibly entertained, good to hear. Kudos to Peter Martins and New York City Ballet for a splendid Spring 2012 Season.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at