A disagreement between Oberon, King of the Fairies, and his Queen, Titania, escalates, resulting in comic misunderstandings and the collision of human and supernatural worlds.
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. It was performed alongside Kenneth MacMillan’s Images of Love and Robert Helpmann’s Hamlet – both also based on works by Shakespeare. 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, who dances en pointe after being transformed into an ass. 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 incidental music for the play, including the well-known Overture, Scherzo, Nocturne and Wedding March, provides a perfect partner to Ashton’s choreography.
News and features
1 June 2014
What did you think of The Royal Ballet's Mixed programme featuring works by Ashton, Marriott and Robbins?
30 May 2014
Frederick Ashton creates a wonderfully virtuoso set piece that perfectly mirrors Mendelssohn's lively music.
30 May 2014
A quick guide to The Royal Ballet's new mixed programme, featuring classic works by Ashton and Robbins as well as a world premiere from Alastair Marriott.
27 May 2014
Steven McRae to replace Federico Bonelli in the role of Oberon.
7 February 2014
A look at the development of the male dancer.
5 December 2013
The Royal Ballet Principal answers your questions before upcoming performances in Jewels and The Nutcracker.