June 8, 2023


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Dansere med briller ser opp mot solen fra operataket

«Dream of the Midnight Sun» at the Norwegian Opera and Ballet House – opinions and recommendations

In the summer of 2020, the National Ballet discovered the opera’s ceiling as a stage. Ballet “Are we better now?” It was played on summer evenings on the rooftop with winds blowing from the sea heralding the arrival of night as the sun slowly set over Oslo.

And yes, it is a beautiful stage with ample opportunities for artistic expression.

So it is a pity that the National Ballet Company once again They try a lot when they dance in this wonderful environment.

Hunting and hiding: love is hunting and hiding. Here jumps Hermia (Anaïs Touret) from Lysander (Vassily Tkachenko).

Photo: Eric Berg/Norwegian Opera and Ballet


In 2017, director Marit Mom Aoun and choreographer Kaloyan Boyadjev created the legendary hit ballet “Huda Gabler”.

They have now joined in a very short version of Shakespeare’s play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” – In the Land of the Midnight Sun – And the He called it “The Midnight Sun’s Dream”.

Shakespeare’s play about love and the intricacies between four young lovers is essentially perfect for a summer’s evening. But in this version it becomes very rare.

When Aune and Boyadjiev choose to dedicate love through four seasons, against some kind of climatic background, it turns out that they want a lot in a very short time.

Incredibly beautiful

But some of the sequences are incredibly beautiful. The Elf King Oberon (Shaker Muhammed) and his Queen Titania (Great Sophie Borod Nibakken) dance several powerful duets to the sound of the crackling icebergs.

Great Sophie Borod Nibakken and Shakir Muhammed wearing big and fluttering blue costumes

Excellent Dance: Titania (Great Sophie Borod Niebakken) and Oberon (Shaker Muhammed) dance several wonderful duets in “A Dream of the Midnight Sun”.

Photo: Eric Berg/Norwegian Opera and Ballet

The strength of the performance lies in the parts where facial expressions and acting don’t get in the way of the dance. Nybakken and Muhammad are fired into their duo, and they shine like powerful dancers.

The music in “A Midnight Sun Dream” consists of excerpts from Shakespeare’s original music by Felix Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Composer and sound designer Peter Baden associates this with his own music, which enters into a dialogue with Mendelssohn.

In one of the first duets between Nybakken and Muhammed, Baden added rich vocals to Mendelssohn’s piano tones. It gives a great soundscape embracing both the audience and the city as you sit on the roof and enjoy the entire landscape.

It’s cleverly thought out, and elevates the overall experience.

Sonia Winograd lies in the arms of Jugglers Alex Quadro during the performance of the National Ballet A Dream of the Midnight Sun on the opera rooftop.

Facts: Helena (Sonia Winograd) rests in the arms of Demetrius (Alex Quadro).

Photo: Eric Berg/Norwegian Opera and Ballet

It’s even worse with the clip from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” that British actor Peter Burke read and sampled in the soundtrack. It feels choppy and heavy.


But first of all in the scenes where the four young lovers dance together, the performance becomes a problem. The choreography was given an unnecessary layer with toys and facial expressions on top. Small imitation gestures that are sure to be fun are totally unnecessary.

Dancers of the National Ballet Company lift a center dancer during a performance on the rooftop of the Opera

Elevate the Experience: Beautiful compositions and a season-appropriate color palette elevate the experience on the opera’s rooftop. However, “A Midnight Sun’s Dream” is trying too hard, say NRK’s ​​critics.

Photo: Eric Berg/Norwegian Opera and Ballet

Nor do I experience that they take advantage of the possibility that the different constellations of the four lovers can find each other. For example, it is clear from the first scene that there is an attraction between young boys, but surprisingly, this is explored to very little.

It’s as if the performance has something to prove. And that must be said clearly In some parties, as if the audience is unable to participate in the creation of what they see.

Here I mean that the National Ballet falls into a trap: it seems as if they think the audience should have everything with a small spoon. This is a bit embarrassing.

peel a little

However, something softens the moment when the dancers carry the large autumnal deciduous trees onto the stage.

Finally, when the scenography I created is used up to Borsum, it makes sense with all the climatic and seasonal chatter that followed that performance before the premiere. Then exciting moments full of contrast are created on the surface.

There and in the beautiful duo between Muhammad and Nibakken.

Dancers Shakir Muhammed and Gret Sophie Borod Nibakken dance passionately in front of the sun on the rooftop of the Opera

Beautiful: When Oslo adds the good side, there are few dance scenes that are prettier than an opera ceiling. Here Shakir Muhammed and Grit Sophie Borod Niebakken in a duet overlooking the city.

Photo: Eric Berg/Norwegian Opera and Ballet

The National Ballet hasn’t found what their shows look like on the surface yet, but they still show good qualities on the set – although the big numbers aren’t always tested as perfectly in sync.

Funny inventions, like the audience wearing tinted glasses, give little to the story and may be a reminder that sometimes you have to peel a little. At least if the ideas are many and the time is short.

For simplicity, it’s often the best–and often surprisingly good when artists do what they do best. In this case: dance.


I’m a Freelancer and Performing Theatre, Performing Arts and Dance for NRK. Also read my great review «Sancthansnatten»In the Ibsen Museum and Theatre.

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