The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s (RNZB) performance of the Ryman Healthcare Season of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Opera House in Wellington was an unexpected treat for our local residents.
After having to sadly cancel their New Zealand tour, the ballet company enchanted the residents with a special socially distanced performance, creating all the magic and mischief of the beloved Shakespeare play.
Playful trickster Puck (Shaun James Kelly) is a highlight, providing comic relief with his mischief making amongst the lovers, Hermia (Kirby Selchow), Lysander (Joseph Skelton), Lobaina (Helena Ana Gallardo) and Demetrius (Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson) who, thanks to Puck’s meddling fall hopelessly in love with the first living thing they see on awakening, confusingly not their own partners!
In the ‘play within a play,’ tradesmen enter the fairyland to practise their own performance to entertain the Duke of Athens and his bride at their upcoming wedding.
📷 Stephen A'court
But the mischievous sprite Puck transforms the hapless tradesman Bottom (Paul Mathews) into a donkey and the other tradesmen run away in fear.
Meanwhile Oberon, (Laurynas Vėjalis) King of the fairies and his Queen Titania (Mayu Tanigaito) are at odds, so he instructs Puck to sprinkle the love potion on Titania’s eyes while she sleeps, to teach her a lesson to obey him. The hilarious outcome was Titania awakening to fall in love with the donkey, Bottom.
📷 Stephen A'court
Puck continues to create havoc amongst the lovers until Oberon relents and removes the spell to return Bottom to his normal self. And the ballet ends with the all the lovers finally reunited with their correct partners and the weddings take place.
📷 Stephen A'court
The costumes are exquisite, especially those of the fairies, and the lighting is inspired, creating the dreamlike atmosphere of the moonlit fairyland setting.
Fortunately, the ballet will soon be able to be watched online so that all centres that missed out due to the COVID19 restrictions will be able to view it, including for the first time our Australian residents.
And the final word this time comes not from rascal Puck, but from the esteemed former Prima Ballerina of the RNZB, Rowena Jackson, namesake of our Invercargill Ryman village:
Kia Ora from sunny Queensland!
It is my very great pleasure to wish all the dancers and the team at the Royal New Zealand Ballet the very best of luck with your new season on behalf of everyone at Ryman Healthcare.
I was lucky enough to take part in many season premieres as Prima Ballerina with the ballet with my beloved Philip dancing at my side – and it is amazing to think it is 60 years since we first danced for the ballet.
I remember the rehearsals, the nerves and then the adrenaline – there is nothing in the world quite like a first night performance!
Taking on a Shakespeare classic is a fantastic challenge, and I am sure the team is all up for it.
I also know that having to adapt and adjust to the restrictions you are now working under will be difficult, but there is nothing like a beautiful ballet performance to spark delight in audiences, so your work and your art is more important than ever.
Sometimes clouds have silver linings.
The fact that A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be recorded and broadcast so people who can’t make it because of COVID-19 can watch it is marvellous news for many.
This includes me – I will be watching over here with interest. It is a beautiful story to tell and I cannot wait to watch it.
One thing I know for sure - you will bring sheer delight to thousands of others. So, on behalf of all your fans, and your many friends at Ryman Healthcare, the best of luck from us all.