The Royal Ballet – The dream

Oberon, King of the Fairies, has quarrelled with his Queen, Titania. He longs to humiliate her, and orders Puck to make her fall in love with a monster. Meanwhile, he and Puck meddle with the lives of four mortal lovers who wander across their path.

Frederick Ashton’s The Dream is based on William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The ballet had its premiere in 1964 as part of a Royal Ballet programme commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. The roles of Oberon and Titania were created for Anthony Dowell and Antoinette Sibley, marking the beginning of their enduring and celebrated dance partnership.

Ashton captures all the comic confusion of Shakespeare’s play in inventive choreography. The high-spirited misadventures of the two pairs of mortal lovers combine with the humorous cavorting of Bottom, played by a male dancer who dances en pointe after his ludicrous transformation. The ballet culminates in a powerful pas de deux for Oberon and Titania, which moves through a stormy conflict of wills to a harmonious union. Felix Mendelssohn’s witty, gossamer-light incidental music for the play provides a perfect partner to Ashton’s choreography.

“Created 50 years ago, The Dream is still fresh, still magical.” Zoe Anderson, The Independent