A Midsummer Night’s Dream with NYC Ballet and Albany Pro Musica at SPAC

Midsummer-NYCBalletWednesday, July 20th 2016 at 8:00 pm
Friday, July 22nd 2016 at 8:00 pm  
Saturday, July 23rd 2016 at 2:00 pm
Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY

Earlier this week if you happen to be around the grounds at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) you might have caught sight of six tractor-trailers full of stage sets, lighting, costumes, physical therapy equipment, special ballets floors, and more being unloaded and moved into the amphitheater. Among the equipment being moved into its temporary home were more than 1,000 toe shoes, hundreds of ballet costumes, over 3 miles of cable for the lighting, over 1,150 light bulbs, 60 color scrollers, a light board that controls over 1,000 channels, three harps, a washer and dryer, as well as marley and a sprung floor. Phew! The New York City Ballet and Orchestra has arrived for its summer residency at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center!

With the arrival of the New York City Ballet at SPAC comes the shimmering world of their magical production of George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, music by Felix Mendelssohn. Tonight (Wed., July 20th) SPAC welcomes the opening performance of the NYC Ballet’s 50th anniversary residency at SPAC with this production—the ballet that opened SPAC five decades ago in 1966.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, you’ll enter the enchanted land of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream through a lush forest besieged by quixotic love triangles and feuding fairy kingdoms, awash with magic at every turn. In this production of George Balanchine’s iconic story ballet, Albany Pro Musica‘s women’s chorus joins the NYC Ballet and Orchestra to sing Felix Mendelssohn’s music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Balanchine loved Mendelssohn’s overture and incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and credits the work as the inspiration to his choreography. For more, I point you to the production notes (from the NYCB website):

Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of his happiest and most loved comedies. It is called a “Dream” because of the unrealistic events the characters experience in the play—real, yet unreal, such as crossed lovers, meaningless quarrels, forest chases leading to more confusion, and magic spells woven by the infamous Puck. Balanchine had been familiar with Shakespeare’s play from an early age. As a child he had appeared as an elf in a production in St. Petersburg, and he could recite portions of the play by heart in Russian. Balanchine loved Mendelssohn’s overture and incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream (composed over a period of 15 years with the overture (Opus 21) first in 1826, and the other sections later in Opus 61). It is this score, Balanchine later said, that inspired his choreography. Mendelssohn had written only about an hour’s worth of music for the play, not enough for an evening-length dance work, so Balanchine added the following pieces, listed in the order of being played:

            • Overture to Athalie, Op. 74;
            • Overture to The Fair Melusine, Op. 32
            • excerpts from The First Walpurgis Night, Op.
            • Symphony No. 9 for Strings
            • Overture to Son and Stranger, Op. 89

While SPAC and NYC Ballet are celebrating its fifty years of partnership, this is also the beginning of Albany Pro Musica’s new season. Quite apropros given anecdotal history APM_NYCBallet_SPACpoints to the acclaimed vocal group’s beginnings taking place through conversation of founding APM director David Griggs-Janower and friends during a picnic of egg salad sandwiches on the grounds at SPAC. José Daniel Flores-Caraballo, Albany Pro Musica’s current artistic director, comments that this opportunity with the NYC Ballet is “an amazing start to our 36th season!  The New York City Ballet is world renowned for its artistry, and Albany Pro Musica is honored to share the stage with them and to perform during SPAC’s 50th anniversary season.”

You’ll want to stay tuned for more Albany Pro Musica’s summer activities as APM has also been asked to sing with The Philadelphia Orchestra’s opening night at SPAC in August. Excellent!

Meanwhile, the week’s weather seems to be cooperating, so pack that picnic (egg salad sandwiches recommended) and go take in a magical evening of music by Mendelssohn and the stunning work of George Balanchine. In addition to the tonight opening performance, you can catch Albany Pro Musica with the New York City Ballet on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Happy musicking everyone!

 

Upcoming Events

  • NYC Ballet with Albany Pro Musica: A Midsummer Night’s Dream | Balanchine, Mendelssohn
  • Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY
    Saturday, July 23rd 2016 at 2:00 pm

  • Berkshire Chorale Festival: Beethoven
  • Jackman L. Stewart Center at Berkshire School, Sheffield, MA
    Saturday, July 23rd 2016 at 7:30 pm

  • Glimmerglass Opera: The Crucible | Ward, Miller & Stambler
  • Alice Busch Opera Theater, Springfield Center, NY
    Saturday, July 23rd 2016 at 8:00 pm

  • Marlboro Music Festival: Prokofiev, Ravel, Mendelssohn
  • Marlboro Music, Marlboro, VT
    Saturday, July 23rd 2016 at 8:00 pm

  • Seagle Music Colony: The Elixir of Love | Donizetti & Romani
  • Oscar Seagle Memorial Theatre, Schroon Lake, NY
    Saturday, July 23rd 2016 at 8:00 pm

  • Glimmerglass Festival: “La Bohème” | Puccini with Illica & Giacosa
  • Alice Busch Opera Theater, Springfield Center, NY
    Sunday, July 24th 2016 at 1:30 pm

  • Bard SummerScape: “Iris” | Mascagni, Illica
  • Fisher Center, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504
    Sunday, July 24th 2016 at 2:00 pm

  • Marlboro Music Festival: Beethoven, Brahams, Dvořák
  • Marlboro Music, Marlboro, VT
    Sunday, July 24th 2016 at 2:30 pm

  • Maverick Concerts: Latitude 41 | Haydn, Shostakovich, Mendelssohn
  • Maverick Concert Hall, Woodstock, NY
    Sunday, July 24th 2016 at 4:00 pm

  • Cherry Valley Artworks: Big Galut(e)
  • Star Theater (Cherry Valley Artworks), Cherry Valley, NY
    Sunday, July 24th 2016 at 7:30 pm

  • Lake Placid Sinfonietta with pianist William Eddins | Wirén, Bloch, Beethoven
  • Lake Placid Center for the Arts, Lake Placid, NY
    Sunday, July 24th 2016 at 7:30 pm

  • Glimmerglass Festival: The Thieving Magpie | Rossini, Gherardini
  • Alice Busch Opera Theater, Springfield Center, NY
    Monday, July 25th 2016 at 1:30 pm

  • LPS Pro Musica: Zhulla, Szasz, Kim | Glière, Bartók, Kodály, Handel-Halvorsen
  • The Wild Center, Tupper Lake, NY
    Monday, July 25th 2016 at 7:30 pm

  • Glimmerglass Festival: “La Bohème” | Puccini with Illica & Giacosa
  • Alice Busch Opera Theater, Springfield Center, NY
    Tuesday, July 26th 2016 at 1:30 pm

  • LPS Pro Musica: Perlman, Zhulla, Kim | Schumann, Kodály, Schubert
  • Lake Placid Center for the Arts, Lake Placid, NY
    Tuesday, July 26th 2016 at 7:30 pm