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New York City Ballet: "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" 2014
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New York City Ballet: "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" 2014

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2014
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, Dena Abergel
Orchestra, Interim Music Director, Andrews Sill
Managing Dir. Communications & Special Projects, Robert Daniels
Manager, Media Relations, Katharina Plumb
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 4, 2014

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Daniel Capps

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 Sara Mearns as Titania, Andrew Veyette as Oberon, Sean Suozzi as Puck, Lauren King as Helena, Abi Stafford as Hermia, Chase Finlay as Lysander, Zachary Catazaro as Demetrius, Megan LeCrone as Hippolyta, Silas Farley as Theseus, Justin Peck as Titania’s Cavalier, Taylor Stanley as Bottom, Brittany Pollack as Butterfly, Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle in Divertissement, Singers: Jennifer Bates, Soprano, Carla Wesby, 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).

Tonight’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by Balanchine, was magnetic, in color and design (David Hays), and ever so youthful, with young students from The School of American Ballet as Butterflies and Fairies. The spellbinding Mendelssohn score was conducted by Daniel Capps with virtuosity. Yet, I was suddenly struck with a yearning for Titania (Sara Mearns) and Oberon (Andrew Veyette) to have that big wedding dance, rather than Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle, who performed the Court Divertissement. After all, Titania had been asleep for a while in a feathered shell onstage, while Puck sprinkled the magic rose onto sleeping lovers, to cause vaudevillian mayhem, madness, and then the reverse, without anyone the worse for wear. Although Ms. Peck and Mr. Angle were splendid in the interlude, it reminded me of a ballet within an opera or film, but, after all, this is a ballet in its entirety. Nevertheless, all four Principals danced and dramatized with astounding theatricality and magic.

I was also drawn to Bottom’s bumbling, drunk companions from the Corps, who danced with burlesque cavorting. Taylor Stanley as Bottom brought pathos and yearning to the beloved donkey character, who for a moment becomes Titania’s object of desire. Among the couples who swap partners, under the magic rose’s influence, Lauren King as Helena and Zachary Catazaro as Demetrius seemed to rush back and forth with extra passion and fervor. Ms. Mearns was effusively warm and endearing, and just having her onstage, even with so little dancing, was worth the experience. Mr. Veyette seemed thrilled as Oberon, in his affection for Titania and the Changeling child, as well. Ms. Peck and Mr. Angle’s Pas de Deux was exciting to watch, as the most rapturous dancing so far had been the confused, lovers, dashing from one wing to the other. And, then there’s Puck. Sean Suozzi is the quintessential Puck, never grandstanding, but, rather, melting into the stage ensemble with ebullience and vigor. His Puck is so eager to please and so spritely and sneaky. And, Mr. Suozzi is always a fantastic dancer as well.

Justin Peck was Titania’s Cavalier, a secondary but regal role, and he was stately, grand, and attentive, impressive in his moments. Silas Farley and Megan LeCrone were Theseus and Hippolyta, also minor roles, but their presence was felt. Two singers and a chorus joined the orchestra for what could have been a concert in itself. In fact, I’ve always wished that City Ballet Orchestra could have a series of its own, during off-season. They could even project artistic photos of the dancers, or landscape, or abstract art. Ballet music is so compelling, it could be a warmup to the coming Season, or just special events. And, at Koch Theater, the orchestra pit rises for full view. Without having to follow the stage ballet they could sweep through this Mendelssohn score, for example, with stunning and sensational momentum. Just a thought.

Kudos to George Balanchine, and kudos to Peter Martins and the Company for a fantastic Spring Season.

Andrew Veyette and Students from
School of American Ballet in
George Balanchine's "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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