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, Dena Abergel
Orchestra, Music Director Designate, Andrew Litton
Interim Music Director, Andrews Sill
Managing Dir. Communications & Special Projects, Robert Daniels
Manager, Media Relations, Katharina Plumb
Communications Associate, Kina Poon
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 2, 2015
(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).
Conductor: Clotilde Otranto
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 Maria Kowroski as Titania, Joaquin De Luz as Oberon, Antonio Carmena as Puck, Rebecca Krohn as Helena, Sterling Hyltin as Hermia, Jared Angle as Lysander, Amar Ramasar as Demetrius, Savannah Lowery as Hippolyta, Joshua Thew as Theseus, Ask la Cour as Titania’s Cavalier, Adrian Danchig-Waring as Bottom, Kristen Segin as Butterfly, Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle in Divertissement, Musica Sacra, Kent Tritle, Music Director, 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).
Clotilde Otranto lifted her baton, and we were transported to a woodland scene, a forest near Athens, on Midsummer Eve, where Maria Kowroski, as Titania, was wooed by Joaquin De Luz, 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. Kowroski was serene and glowing, first filled with self-protection, later succumbing to emotion. As Oberon, Mr. De Luz was perfectly cast, playful, impetuous, mischievous, and quite persistent. Both danced with theatrical gestures. Antonio Carmena, as Puck, was, unfortunately, grinning too much and overly campy. His leaps and jumps were athletic, but uninteresting. 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. Puck makes much of that rose and needs to be persuasive..
Today’s cast did make much of those roses, and Helena (Rebecca Krohn), Demetrius (Amar Ramasar), Hermia (Sterling Hyltin), and Lysander (Jared Angle), all fell in and out of love with each other, with silent-film-worthy racing about, chasing whomever they awoke and re-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, Sterling Hyltin and Amar Ramasar seemed the most impassioned and persuasive. Savannah Lowery was a forceful Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, in a striking, stunning mythological motif. Joshua Thew, as Theseus, Duke of Athens, threw himself into the moment, and Kristen Segin, as Butterfly, was omnipresent, lyrical, and ethereal, in this dreamlike ballet about a dream.
Ask la Cour, as Titania’s Cavalier, was regal, poised, and chivalrous. Adrian Danchig-Waring was probably the best Bottom (the drunken Rustic, who becomes a donkey for a while), that I’ve seen acted, with extra dramatic flourishes in wit and warmth. He’s quite a character actor, and his Bottom was vulnerable and charismatic. In the Act II Divertissement, Tiler Peck stole the show, partnered attentively by Tyler Angle. Ms. Peck danced with her torso bent backward in elegance, and her lifts were luxurious. She grabs the eye with her confident demeanor. Mr. Angle showcased Ms. Peck in dramatic fashion. 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 singers of Musica Sacra kept the Mendelssohn score textured and full, and Maestro Otranto 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 sublime evening.
Kudos to Peter Martins and New York City Ballet for a splendid Spring 2015 Season.
Joaquin De Luz, Maria Kowroski, and Adrian Danchig-Waring
in Balanchine's "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik