San Francisco Ballet launches its 2021 Digital Season on Jan. 21 with George Balanchine’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which was filmed on stage at the War Memorial Opera House in March 2020, just before the state went into a mandated shelter-in-place.
The production has just returned to SF Ballet after three decades and made its debut on March 6 before the pandemic shuttered the company shortly after opening night. Before that, RIFF spent a day with the company’s dancers and choreographers leading up to the debut. It’s a faithful recreation of the William Shakespeare comedy. In the ballet, once fairy servant Puck rains mischief down upon four humans with a magical flower pierced by Cupid’s arrow, a love quadrangle leads to obsession and plenty of temporarily broken hearts.
The ballet debuted in 1962 but hasn’t been staged by SF Ballet for 34 years. Balanchine, who founded the New York City Ballet, died in 1983. To stage a production authentic to his vision, SF Ballet sought the assistance of the George Balanchine Trust. Répétiteur Sandra Jennings traveled to San Francisco and worked with the dancers and others involved to ensure the production stayed true to Balanchine’s vision.
The ballet has 100 roles, including 14 leading parts and a cast of 25 children.
“It has humor. It has suspense. It has love. And even if you are not a ballet aficionado, you immediately understand what’s going on,” said SF Ballet Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson, who danced as Oberon, King of the Fairies, with New York City Ballet in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, in a news release.
Tickets are available now as individual streams for $29, or as part of the Premium Plus Digital Package, which offers access to all seven programs in the 2021 Digital Season and exclusive bonus content for $289.