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The Seasons & Shakespeare With The American Ballet Theater

Cassandra Trenary and Daniel Camargo in The Dream. Photo: Rosalie O’Connor.

At the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, on the evening of Saturday, October 29th, I had the especial privilege of attending a stunning program of mixed repertory featuring the marvelous artists of American Ballet Theater, in the final week of its fall season.

The first half of the event was a dazzling presentation of Frederick Ashton’s incredible The Dream, after William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, set to Felix Mendelssohn’s wonderful incidental music to the play, arranged by John Lanchbery and here admirably conducted by David LaMarche with the assistance of The Young People’s Chorus of New York City, under the direction of Francisco J. Nuñez. George Balanchine was probably Ashton’s only equal in greatness from the last century as a choreographer and The Dream is a masterpiece—a worthy counterpart to Balanchine’s own setting of the same story and music—and one of the most beautiful productions in the company’s repertoire. The attractive sets and costumes were designed by David Walker and the superlative lighting by John B. Read.

However, the ballet’s success owed as much to its sterling cast of interpreters as to its creators. Cassandra Trenary, who has proven to be a very fine ballerina, excelled in the role of Titania while Daniel Camargo was superb as Oberon. Elwince Magbitang astonished as Puck while Blaine Hoven was a characteristically brilliant Bottom. The four lovers of the play were also remarkable, including Betsy McBride as Helena, Alexandra Basmagy as Hermia, Patrick Frenette as Demetrius, and Sung Woo Han as Lysander. There was strong support from the secondary cast while the superiorcorps de balletwas in perfect form.

The second ballet in the program was also fabulous: Artist in Residence Alexei Ratmansky’s magnificent The Seasons, set to Alexander Glazunov’s delightful score—originally written for the immortal Marius Petipa—sensitively conducted by Charles Barker. Ratmansky—whose exquisite Whipped Cream was presented the previous week—is probably the greatest living choreographer andThe Seasonsis one of his best works. The splendid, colorful costumes were designed by Robert Perdziola.

This ballet too featured a superlative cast. The first section, “Winter,” was danced by Jarod Curley as Winter, Zimmi Coker as Frost, Ingrid Thoms as Ice, Sunmi Park as Hail, and Zhong-Jing Fang as Snow. In “Spring,” Joo Won Ahn was exceptional as Zephyr, alongside McBride again as the Rose and Fangqi Li as the Swallow. In “Summer,” Hee Seo shone as the Spirit of the Corn, with Michael de la Nuez as the Faun, and Melvin Lawovi and Jonathan Klein as Satyrs. Finally, “Autumn” featured Courtney Shealy as Bacchante and Hoven again terrific as Bacchus. The members of the graceful secondary cast are too numerous to be cited by name while thecorps de balletwas again wondrous.

I look forward to the return of this fantastic company next spring.

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