Theseus, Duke of Athens, is going to marry Hyppolyta, Queen of the Amazons. Demetrius is engaged with Hermia, but Hermia loves Lysander. Helena loves Demetrius. Oberon and Titania, of the ... See full summary »
Mendelssohn, ballet and the famous Shakespearean story was recipe for an absolute dream of a production, and George Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream is exactly that. The ballet itself is great stuff indeed, the narrative is stronger in the first act and Mendelssohn's incidental music is not quite enough for a full-length ballet, but the story charms and the incidental and additional music, all Mendelssohn, are just wonderful.
As is this production. Visually it is a delight. The sets and props, right from the trees in silhouettes, Titania's kingdom as a wreath of roses and the Act 2 columns, look beautiful and add much to transporting us to the setting and atmosphere of the story. You can also tell a lot of effort went into tailoring and colour co-ordinating the costumes. I loved the pastel colours of the children/fairies, the deeper colours of the four lovers and the dark decorative ones for Oberon, Hippolyta and Thesus. The picture quality and video directing, with an equal mix of close-ups and distance shots, are excellent.
The staging is full of colourful charm, poignant grace and sparkling humour. Having the children as fairies was a great idea and they dance beguilingly and with evident enjoyment on their faces. Another great idea in their regard was them as fireflies in the finale.
Musically, A Midsummer Night's Dream is outstanding. The orchestra play with vigour and great beauty of sound, and the conducting keeps things moving while never making it dull. The dancing is just as successful. Patricia Barker especially as Titania is graceful and dances with great sensitivity. Oberon is a commanding presence, Puck is hilarious and the lovers are tender and amusing all at once.
Overall, enchanting ballet production in every way. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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