A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The New York City Ballet on Thursday, April 27.

If I were to pick a composer to write music for A Midsummer Night's Dream, I don't think I would choose Felix Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn, an early Romantic, had a sense of formality, a classical mindset, that doesn't really jibe with the fantastical nature of the Shakespeare comedy. A Midsummer Night's Dream is ultimately about sex and the psyche, and Mendelssohn's music is too prim, conjuring demure Victorian faeries instead of the ribald, sensual sprites of Shakespeare's imagination.

Then again, people commonly interpret A Midsummer Night's Dream as a benign farce instead of an earthy yet contemplative sex comedy, and Mendelssohn's music invokes the former perfectly. George Balanchine followed his lead in choreographing the work that has become part of the New York City Ballet's repertory since its premiere in 1962. It is blithe and breezy, thematically insubstantial but undeniably enchanting, featuring dancers of all ages and skill levels — from company principals to young children from the School of American Ballet.