From the first sweet notes of the woodwinds to the joyous flurry of the strings, Felix Mendelssohn’s overture for A Midsummer Night’s Dream whisks the listener away from the cold winter wind toward the breeze of a warm summer evening.
When the curtain rises on the War Memorial Opera House stage, we see that George Balanchine’s balletic vision of Shakespeare’s comedic play begins with the youngest dancers. And within the first ten minutes, all storyline significant characters are introduced; an impressive feat considering the complexity of the script.
It is at this moment that it dawns on me how only the strongest of performing arts organizations can successfully present this production of Midsummer.
It requires an enormous cast drawing the most talented from the training grounds through to the top of the professional ranks.
It needs a full passionate orchestra like that under the command of Martin West’s baton.
It demands the investment in glorious scenery, props, and costumes like those borrowed from Pacific Northwest Ballet.
Helgi Tomasson’s San Francisco Ballet is the epitome of just this type of organization.