The Dream and The Tempest at ABT

Julie Kent in Titania in ABT's "The Dream"

Julie Kent in Titania in ABT’s “The Dream”

Something wonderful happened at the ballet the other night; we stayed! American Ballet Theatre has a lovely habit of performing “old favorites” year after year, and while we love the excellence, the beauty, the precision and the overall perfection of the dancers and the company and their repertoire of say, “Giselle” or “Swan Lake,” we sometimes think about going home early.

Last week, this philistine approach was impossible: the double bill of “The Dream” and “The Tempest” held us spellbound throughout. The dancers were extraordinary –- as if they had been given a reprieve from their “regular classes” and were asked to take an advanced course.

The Dream: The virtuosity of Julie Kent as Titania and Marcelo Gomes as Oberon elicited constant applause throughout, as well as laughter for Puck (Daniil Simkin) and Bottom (Alexei Agoudine). Mendelssohn is the catalyst for the magical music.

This beautiful fairy tale is worthy of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” but on a different plane because of all the leaps and lifts, turns and tribulations, flowers of love and eyedrops of charm. But then a fog puts all to rights.

Sarah Lane as Miranda and Marcelo Gomes as Prospero in American Ballet Theatre's "The Tempest"

Sarah Lane as Miranda and Marcelo Gomes as Prospero in ABT’s”The Tempest”

The Tempest: Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky along with music by Sibelius created a brooding yet exciting musical background for Santo Loquasto (a longtime favorite) to visualize his magical costumes for what was basically a shipwreck with two factions: Prospero and his daughter Miranda, who are at odds with Alonso, King of Naples and his entourage. During the ballet they and the sea around them come to certain mystical decisions that allow the best man (daughter and future son-in-law) to win.

Somehow, the set designers keep improving as they find new ways to create distance, light and photography together with actual objects. We find this happening at the Met Opera as well, and it is a skillful blending of contemporary and ancient craftsmanship to the audience’s benefit.

Shakespeare would be so proud…..

Barbara Tober

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