A Midsummer Night's Dream

...interact in a forest. After creating and finally solving many conflicts, a group wedding celebration is held. Georg Balanchine (Russian, 1904-1983) choreographed the ballet A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1962. He used the music composed 1826 and 1842 by Felix Mendelssohn for Shakespeare's play (around 1590) of the same name. 

   

However, Balanchine also incorporated other works of Mendelssohn into the ballet. The ballet employs a large children's corps de ballet. 

The Essence

A Midsummer Night's Dream is about the emotions, confusions and troubles that love brings about. Looking back, it is sometimes better to consider the events as being nothing but a dream.

The Summary

The ballet A Midsummer Night's Dream is the story of lovers, amateur actors and fairies that all interact in a forest near Athens. After creating and finally solving many conflicts, a group wedding celebration is held.

The Plot

The forest outside Athens is inhabited by lovely fairies and elves. Among them is the elf named Puck who is the special servant of Oberon, king of fairies. Oberon and the queen of fairies Titania live separated due to a quarrel about the queens little Indian boy. The queen does not want Oberon to take the boy away to become his knight. Consequently, Oberon is coming up with the plan to distract the fairy queen. He is ordering his special servant Puck to prepare a juice that he shall put on the sleeping queen's eyelids. As soon as she would wake up, the juice would make her fall in love with the first living thing of which Oberon hopes it would be an animal. While she would be foolishly in love, he plans to take away the Indian boy.

At the same time, the Athenian Helena enters the forest. She is in love with Demetrius, the problem is however, that Demetrius does not love her. In fact, Demetrius is very rough to her. This behavior upsets Oberon and he requests Puck to put love juice on Demetrius' eyes once he sleeps.

Also in the forest are nother two Athenian lovers. They are Hermia and Lysander who want to meet in secret. Hermia's father is opposing the relationship and wants Hermia to marry Demetrius. Demetrius in deed loves Hermia, but she does not like him at all. Demetrius hearing of the secret meeting between Hermia and Lysander, plans to kill Lysander.

While Lysander and Demetrius sleep, Puck mistakes Lysander for Demetrius and puts the love-juice on Lysander's eyelids. Helena who knows about Demetrius' plan to kill Lysander wants to know if he is dead or sleeping, so she wakes him up and he falls instantly in love with her. Seeing this, Oberon is enraged with Puck's mistake. He puts love-juice on Demetrius' eyelids and orders Puck to fetch Helena. Upon waking up, Demetrius consequently also falls in love with Helena.

Now Hermia has a problem and is angry with Helena because she thinks Helena stole Lysander away from her. Helena however is also not happy because she believes both men are mocking her since none of them had loved her in the first place. The two men get so heated that they decide to fight each other for Helena. Oberon orders Puck to keep the two men apart.

Also meeting secretly in the forest is a group of clumsy craftsmen. They have a very ambitious goal to perform a play during the upcoming wedding celebration of the Duke of Athens and the Amazon Queen Hippolyta. They practice in the woods so that they would not be seen by anybody. Unfortunately, they practice near the chambers of the fairy queen Titania who is sleeping. While sleeping, Puck puts the love-juice on her eyes. When Puck sees the amateur actors, he mistakes the name of one of them, Bottom for another word for jackass. Just for fun, he transforms his head into a donkey's head. The other amateur actors flee in terror and Titania wakes up. Since the donkey-headed amateur actor is the first one that she sees, she falls terribly in love with him. As planned, Oberon steals away her Indian boy.

Finally, Oberon orders Puck to remove the donkey head from the amateur actor. He also makes sure that the charm is removed from the fairy queen Titania's eyes as well as from Lysander. So Lysander returns to love Hermia while Demetrius continues to love Helena. When the Duke of Athens arrives with the Amazon Queen, they wake all the lovers and the Duke arranges a group wedding. Due to the lack of practice, the six craftsmen's play becomes a comedy after which everyone goes to bed happily.

Obeon, Titania and all the fairies bless the house. Puck suggests to the audience that all the events of the night might have been nothing but a dream.

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