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The Dream is one of Ashton's true masterpieces. Rather than faithfully adapting Shakespeare's sprawling comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Ashton condensed it into a mere 45 minutes or so, without losing any of the essentials of the plot.
Two mismatched human couples bring anguish and confusion to the forest realm of fairies, where some trouble is also brewing. The King and Queen of the fairies, Oberon and Titania, are fighting over ownership of a small page. With the mischievous Puck let loose, the scene is set for a series of comedic errors, more mismatching and finally reconciliations as harmony is re-established in the realms of both humans and fairies.
All this set to a delightful score by Felix Mendelssohn played live in this 2017 recording by the Orchestra of The Royal Opera House.
The central roles of Oberon and Titania, originally created for Anthony Dowell and Antoinette Sibley – one of the Royal Ballet's most illustrious partnerships – are danced here by principals Steven McRae and Akane Takada. McRae is a virtuoso dancer and proves a good interpreter of Oberon's capricious and prepotent fairy King; tiny and delicate, but with a strong technique, Takada is a charming Titania. For their final pas de deux of reconciliation Ashton created some of his most eloquent and moving choreography. Well danced, it should bring a furtive tear to your eyes.
Puck is danced here by first soloist Valentino Zucchetti. The role requires mercurial speed combined with strong acting ability. A good technician, Zucchetti is more than equal to it.
One of the most amusing sequences of the ballet is the transformation of one of Shakespeare's 'rude mechanics', Bottom, into a donkey, with whom Titania, under the influence of a powerful spell, becomes infatuated. As a donkey Bottom dances en pointe, while sporting a totally cute donkey head. Principal character artist Bennet Gartside is really engaging in the role.
With David Walker's designs transporting us to a magical forest, and glorious dancing from the assorted fairies, mechanics and humans, The Dream is a wonderful addition to the ROH #OurHouseToYourHouse programme, and one we are very much looking forward to revisiting.
|What||The Royal Ballet streams The Dream|
|Where||Online | MAP|
19 Mar 21 – 16 Apr 21, 19:00 and available for four weeks after. Dur.: 45 mins approx