Hippolyta’s Room
On the evening before the wedding of Hippolyta and Theseus, Duke of Athens, last minute preparations are being made, supervised by Philostrat, Master of the Revels at Theseus’ court. Hippolyta’s friends, Helena and Hermia, help to put finishing touches on her bridal gown. The Court Treasurer presents the bridal jewels to Hippolyta. He is accompanied by the officer, Demetrius, Helena’s former fiancé, who is now unsuccessfully intent on winning Hermia’s attentions. Helena still loves Demetrius. The gardener Lysander arrives, bringing Hippolyta’s wedding flowers.

He loves Hermia, and his love is returned. He secretly gives her a letter asking her to meet him in the woods under an olive tree. Helena finds the letter and shows it to Demetrius. A group of rustics, led by the weaver Bottom, present Hippolyta with their text for a play “Pyramus and Thisbe” which they wish to perform for the marriage festivities. Theseus arrives to visit Hippolyta. Although he brings her a rose, Hippolyta is aware of his flirting with the ladies of the court. Left alone, Hippolyta finds and reads Lysander’s love letter to Hermia. Pensive, she falls asleep with Theseus’ rose in her hand. She dreams...

Act I

Night—In the Wood | The Fairy Realm
Titania, Queen of the Fairies, argues with Oberon, King of the Elves. In his anger, Oberon gives Puck a flower which has magical powers. If shaken over the eyes of someone asleep, that person will fall in love with the first person seen upon awakening. Oberon orders Puck to use the love-flower on Titania. Lysander and Hermia meet in the wood. Demetrius looks for Hermia, followed by Helena. All are observed by Oberon. Taking pity on Helena, Oberon orders Puck to use the love-flower on Demetrius, so that he will return her love.

Lost in the woods, Lysander and Hermia lie down to sleep. Mistaking him for Demetrius, Puck shakes the love-flower over Lysander. Helena accidentally awakens Lysander and he at once falls passionately in love with her. Confused by his attentions, she flees. Hermia awakens and searches for Lysander.

Bottom and his companions are looking for a spot in the woods to rehearse their play. The place found, roles are distributed and Bottom leads the rehearsal. They are observed by Puck, who, as a joke, transforms Bottom’s head into that of an ass. Frightened at his appearance, the other rustics run away.

Titania and her followers fall asleep and Puck now uses the love-flower on her. She is accidentally awakened by Bottom, and is suddenly consumed with desire for him. Observing Demetrius, whose affections are still directed towards Hermia, Oberon realizes Puck’s mistake and orders him to use the flower on the sleeping Demetrius. Helena, pursued by Lysander, stumbles over and awakens Demetrius. He also falls madly in love with her. Confusion reigns. Oberon commands Puck to bring all the relationship in order. The elf arranges the sleeping lovers in their proper combinations and once again uses the love-flower.

Act II

Dawn in the Woods
The lovers awaken and are united— Hermia with Lysander, Helena with Demetrius. The rustics find Bottom.

Hippolyta’s Room
After quietly observing the sleeping Hippolyta—dreaming upon her couch—Theseus gently awakens her. A love develops between them. Both pairs of lovers enter and beg Theseus’ permission to wed. The Duke of Athens blesses their unions.

A Festive Room in Theseus’ Ducal Palace
The wedding ceremonies begin. The rustics perform their play. After the wedding guests have left, Oberon and Titania are again united in love.

Artist's Statement

My world is dance. As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to dance —even before I actually knew what it was! But, almost from the beginning, I wanted not only to dance myself, but to create dances, to tell wordless stories using movement.

It is our nature to be in movement. Even while standing still, our heart must pump, the blood constantly flows, and our breath rises and falls. Movement is the very sign we are alive. But, what has always interested me most are those special movements, guided by feelings, inspired by emotions which can give shape to our desires, visions, and longings, movements which move us. It is my wish in choreography to translate our most intimate experiences, our aspirations, and deepest sorrows honestly into images of beauty.

Dance is the center of my life— just as the human being is always at the center of dance. ‘Man’ is its subject and at the same time its instrument. This instrument —the body—needs ‘tuning’, needs a technique to make it articulate. The choreographer uses this well-tuned body instrument to shape his dreams.

I feel privileged in my world. Although it is one of extreme hard work, concentration, dedication, disappointments and unconditional commitment—the world of dance never demanded sacrifice from me. Dance is a labor of love. I wish you exciting and intensive performances with The Hamburg Ballet.

– John Neumeier

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Composer: Mendelssohn and Gyorgy Ligeti
Choreographer: John Neumeier

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San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson's Nutcracker. (© Erik Tomasson)

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