Above: Joaquin de Luz and Maria Kowroski in Balanchine's MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM; photo by Paul Kolnik
Friday June 6, 2014 - Not wanting to risk missing this season's MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM at New York City Ballet, I took a chance and bought a ticket in advance, before the casting was announced. I lucked out with this excellent assemblage of dancers:
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM: TITANIA: Kowroski; OBERON: De Luz; PUCK: Ulbricht; HIPPOLYTA: Lowery; THESEUS: Thew; TITANIA’S CAVALIER: la Cour; HELENA: Krohn; DEMETRIUS: Ramasar; HERMIA: Hyltin; LYSANDER: R. Fairchild; BUTTERFLY: Lovette; BOTTOM: Hall; DIVERTISSEMENT: M. Fairchild, J. Angle
Of course, any cast at NYCB is bound to please me since I love the entire Company, but I hadn't seen Maria Kowroski, Ask LaCour, Megan Fairchild or Jared Angle yet this Spring season. Aside from a couple of signs of end-of-season fatigue from the orchestra pit, it was as perfect a DREAM as I've ever experienced.
The production, now over 50 years old, still looks handsome, and of course this season the costumes have all been re-made, to brilliant effect - just as a single example, the costume for Titania's cavalier now shows beautiful details and deep colours I'd never noticed before. And even Titania's flower-petal throne seems to have been spruced up.
Perched up in my 5th Ring seat with a bird's-eye view of the orchestra (under guest conductor Paulo Paroni's baton) and enjoying a good evening of corps-watching (Titania's retinue and the Act II courtiers and divertssement dancers loaded with favorite faces and forms), I had a savorable evening in ever regard.
Titania is one of Maria Kowroski's best roles, one in which her astounding legs and queenly presence are meshed with deft comedic touches (her reaction to finding a donkey by her side is priceless); she looked gorgeous and was matched in her pas de deux by Ask LaCour's towering, genial cavalier. Joaquin de Luz swept thru the daredevil pyrotechnics of Oberon's scherzo, bringing vibrant clarity to his beats and leaps...and giving a superb account of the role as an actor, too. Daniel Ulbricht's Puck is iconic, and the audience embraced both his technical feats and his vivid acting with enthusiasm. Lauren Lovette fluttered charmingly as the Butterfly.
The mortal couples were wonderfully cast today, with Amar Ramasar and Robert Fairchild engaging in some fiery fencing whilst not wooing their own - or each other's - girls. Rebecca Krohn made a wistful, lyrical Helena - we're ready for her Titania! - and Sterling Hyltin's 'mad scene' as Hermia was splendidly danced and acted. Joshua Thew was a noble Duke of Verona and Savannah Lowery had a terrific evening as Hippolyta, her spacious dancing culminating in a spectacular swirl of fouettés at an alarming speed which evoked a burst of cheers from the House.
In an oasis of poetic calm after the night of hijinx and swordplay, Megan Fairchild and Jared Angle gave serene rendering of their divertissement pas de deux, one of Balanchine's loveliest creations. Megan's artistry has deepend beautifully thru the seasons; she was gracious and radiant, and so handsomely partnered by Jared whose inherent nobility and classic confidence complimented Megan perfectly. They rightly won a roar of applause at the close of their duet.