Saturday, July 26, 2014

Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream: The Balanchine Ballet




Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: A Midsummer Night's Dream
 
This is a from a February 2007 production from Milan's La Scala, with Ballet and Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, Nir Kabaretti, conductor. This ballet is in two acts and follows the same-titled play of William Shakespeare. Here are the particulars of this performance:

Titania: Alessandra Ferri
Oberon: Roberto Bolle
Titania's partner: Massimo Murru
Puck: Riccardo Massimi
Hermia: Deborah Gismondi
Helena: Gilda Gelati
Demetrius: Vittorio D'Amato
Lysander: Gianni Ghisleni
Hippolyta: Sabrina Brazzo
Theseus:  Matteo Buongiorno
Bottom: Camillo Di Pompo
Moth: Sophie Sarrote

Act Two
: Pas de deux: Marta Romagna, Mick Zeni
Irina Kapanadze: soprano
Kete van Kemoklidze: mezzo-soprano
Restaging: Patricia Neary, Sara Leland, and Nanette Glushak
Choreography: George Balanchine

Wiikipedia writes a little about the George Balanchine production's history:
A Midsummer Night's Dream is a two-act ballet choreographed by George Balanchine to Felix Mendelssohn's music for Shakespeare's play of the same name. In addition to the incidental music, Balanchine incorporated other Mendelssohn works into the ballet including Overtures to Athalie, Son and Stranger, and The Fair Melusine, Symphony No. 9 for Strings and The First Walpurgis Night.[1] A Midsummer Night's Dream is Balanchine's first completely original full-length ballet, and premiered at New York City Ballet on January 17, 1962 [1][2] with Edward Villella in the role of Oberon, Melissa Hayden in the role of Titania, and Arthur Mitchell in the role of Puck. The ballet employs a large children's corps de ballet.[3] Act I tells Shakespeare's familiar story of lovers and fairies while Act II presents a strictly classical dance wedding celebration. The ballet dispenses with Shakespeare's play-within-a-play finale. A Midsummer Night's Dream opened The New York City Ballet's first season at the New York State Theater in April, 1964.[1]
In a 1989 review ("Magic Afoot Again in Oberon's Land"; February 11, 1989) of the ballet, Anne Kisselgoff writes for The New York Times:
George Balanchine's ballet version of ''A Midsummer Night's Dream'' loses no time in plunging into its music and dancing. The plot is not given short shrift but is compressed with cinematic swiftness into a minimum of dramatic posturing.

Thus when Gen Horiuchi, as Oberon, twisted into the air like a corkscrew at a tilt, this amazing turn brought the house down at the New York State Theater on Thursday night. The astounding aspect was not the seemingly impossible number of turns (two and a half) but the fact that Mr. Horiuchi fit them all into the music.

Mendelssohn's music inspired Balanchine as much as Shakespeare's play in 1960. This first performance of the New York City Ballet season, conducted vibrantly by Robert Irving, was led with grandeur and spark by Darci Kistler, Mr. Horiuchi and Jean-Pierre Frohlich.
It is currently midsummer.

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