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A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream

George Balanchine (1975)


George Balanchine


Felix Mendelssohn
1 hour and 40 minutes

Take a dip into the familiar story of mischief, merriment, and mismatched romances, reimagined in the spellbinding undersea setting of South Florida’s coastal waters. Shakespeare’s comedic characters – the feuding Titania and Oberon, the fiendish Puck, and the quartet of hapless romantics – are brought to life through Balanchine’s intricate choreography, all set to Mendelssohn’s whimsical fairytale score.

Wild and adventurous, the ocean is our forest.

Tarell Alvin McCraney

Ballet Credits


George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust


Felix Mendelssohn, Overture and Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21 and 61 (1826, 1842); Overtures to Athalie, op. 74 (1845), The Fair Melusine op. 32 (1833), The First Walpurgis Night, op. 60; Symphony No. 9 for strings; Overture to Son and Stranger, op. 89 (1829)


Sandra Jennings

Scene and Costumes

Michele Oka Doner

Lighting Design

John Hall

Dramaturgy by

Wendall Harrington

Scenic Credits

Design Assistant by Carlos Rodriguez

Draperies furnished and constructed by I. Weiss Theatrical Solution

Scenic painting by Scenic Art Studios

Properties construction by Michael Amico

Projection programming by Paul Vershbow

University of Miami's Rosenstiel School, the Nancy Voss Collection


To celebrate MCB’s 30th anniversary season, the company mounted a new production of Balanchine’s sumptuous, wildly acclaimed new production of, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s timeless tale of love, illusion and reconciliation.  With a fairytale cast, Felix Mendelssohn’s glorious music, twenty-four children and six vocalists, spectacular new sets and costumes, and Miami City Ballet’s breathtaking dancers, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a dazzling spectacle for families and audiences of all ages. Reimagined by two international artists with ties to Miami -- dramatic direction by Tarell Alvin McCraney and original sets and costumes by the celebrated artist Michele Oka Doner -- this new Dream takes its inspiration from South Florida’s surrounding waterways while always remaining true to Shakespeare, Mendelssohn and Balanchine.

All Shakespeare’s famous characters are here: Oberon and Titania, the feuding King and Queen of the Fairies; the two pairs of muddled lovers; poor confused Bottom, who is magically transformed into an ass (in our version, a manatee); Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, who comes through the forest accompanied by her hounds (in our version, seahorses) to marry Theseus, ruler of nearby Athens; and of course the mischievous sprite Puck, who presides over the confusions and resolutions of the fiendishly intricate plot – Puck, who in the play speaks the famous line that perhaps most clearly reflects Shakespeare’s view of the characters he has brought to life, “What fools these mortals be.”

With so much of Balanchine’s great reputation based on his abstract (or black-and-white) ballets – The Four Temperaments, Agon, Episodes, Symphony in Three Movements – it’s easy to forget that he was also a supreme storyteller (just think of his Nutcracker). Somehow he makes this ultra-complicated story crystal clear – you're never for a moment at a loss as he unfolds this infinitely touching, charming and hilarious drama. And then, following the long first act, he gives us an elegant divertissement, with Theseus’ court becoming the setting for a formal exhibition of classical dance (it opens with Mendelssohn’s famous “Wedding March”) and at the heart of which is one of Balanchine’s most subtle and persuasive pas de deux.

On a personal note: In the original production of A Midsummer Night’ Dream, the central role of Oberon was created on our Founding Artistic Director, Edward Villella, and during her twenty-four years at New York City Ballet, our current Artistic Director, Lourdes Lopez, danced Helena, the Act II pas de deux, and – early on – one of Hippolyta’s hounds!

Additional Notes and Credits

Opening image: Port of Miami underwater, 2014

Coral Castle, Act II, reimagined from a vintage photograph taken by Hans Hannau, early 1940s.

Located in South Dade County, Coral Castle has become a part of Miami's mythic landscape.

Costume Design Liaison Carole Divet Harting

Act I:  Euro Co Costumes

           John Kristiansen New York Inc.

          Tricorne, Inc.

          Fairies, Titania, Helena, Hermia and Butterfly headpieces by Maria Morales                    

Act II: Halsey Onstage

            Additional Costume Design by Travis Halsey and Rachel Coyle

            Corps, Divertissement, Helena and Hermia headpieces by Maria Morales

Brilliant choreography, vivid performance. The dancers seem like darting fish in the dark depths... cinematic.

- The Miami Herald

Did you know?

Costume designs and sets are based on the extraordinary archive of marine specimens at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School. Housed in the Marine Invertebrate Museum, almost a million creatures are cared for and investigated by Professor Nancy Voss, who kindly gave her permission for their use.