SF Ballet's A Midsummer Night's Dream, A Dream Worth Waiting For


February 28, 2020-Created in 1962 for New York City Ballet, George Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream is his first original full-length ballet that he completed in America. First performed by Francisco Ballet in 1985, the Company has not presented this classic in 34 years. On March 6 San Francisco Ballet raises the curtain on this long-awaited and anticipated classic.

San Francisco Ballet's Sasha De Sola rehearsing A Midsummer Night's Dream. Photo by Erik Tomasson.
San Francisco Ballet's Sasha De Sola rehearsing A Midsummer Night's Dream. Photo by Erik Tomasson.

Based on William Shakespeare's play, the story includes the King and Queen of Fairies, a troublemaking trickster, and more than 100 magical roles, including fairies, mortals, bugs, and mis-matched lovers, 14 leading parts, 25 children, and the chorus Volti performing live with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra throughout the run of performances.

The magical costumes were designed by Tony Award-winner Martin Pakledinaz, who designed the costumes for San Francisco Ballet's productions of Nutcracker and Don Quixote. Lighting was designed by Randall G. Chiarelli. The music includes selections of Felix Mendelsohn's concert overtures; the String Symphony No. 9 in C minor; and The First Walpurgis Night, a secular cantata for full chorus. 

"I think Balanchine did such a superb job with Midsummer," says Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson, who danced as Oberon, King of the Fairies, with New York City Ballet in the late '70s and early '80s. "It has humor. It has suspense. It has love. And even if you are not a ballet aficionado, you immediately understand what's going on."

Balanchine's ballet condenses Shakespeare's five acts into two. Act I introduces the story and characters, while Act II is mainly a wedding scene. Balanchine's demanding choreography includes solos, several pas de deux, and a dance for six couples. Midsummer was staged for San Francisco Ballet by Sandra Jennings, a full-time repetiteur with The George Balanchine Trust. 

A Midsummer Night's Dream promises to be the highlight of San Francisco Ballet's season, a not-to-be-missed spectacular of dancing, costumes, scenery, and lighting set to exquisite music.

On Wednesday, March 11, Helgi Tomasson will be featured in a free and open to the public Pointes of View lecture from 6:00-6:45 pm in the War Memorial Opera House. A pre-performance fundraising dinner will take place on opening night, Friday, March 6 at the Conservatory of Flowers. Meet the Artist interviews will take place March 6 at 7pm; March 8 at 1 pm; March 12 immediately following the performance; March 14 immediately following the matinee; and March 15 at 1 pm. For more information see San Francisco Ballet.