American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Season Is Back￼
After a two-year hiatus, American Ballet Theatre returns to the Metropolitan Opera House June 13–July 16 for its 2022 summer season. This year’s program includes an exciting lineup of New York City premieres, full-length principal-role debuts and guest artists Daniel Camargo (former Dutch National Ballet principal) and Daniil Simkin (Staatsballett Berlin principal) to welcome the company back to its summer home.
The season kicks off on June 13 with an opening-night gala performance of Don Quixote celebrating departing ABT artistic director Kevin McKenzie and ABT trustee Susan Fales-Hill. A different leading cast will perform in each act, with principals Christine Shevchenko and Cory Stearns as Kitri and Basilio in Act I, principals Hee Seo and Joo Won Ahn in Act II, and soloist Catherine Hurlin and principal Aran Bell in Act III. Won Ahn, Hurlin and Bell will each be making their New York debuts in their respective roles. The first week continues with seven more performances of Don Quixote, featuring additional New York debuts (see below).
Then, the New York premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s Of Love and Rage opens on June 20 and features several principal role debuts (below). The ballet, based on Chariton of Aphrodisias’ novel Callirhoe, takes place in ancient Greece and follows the legend of the beauty Callirhoe and her lover Chaereas. Twelve performances of Swan Lake also follow beginning June 27.
Principal Thomas Forster will make his New York debuts as Espada in Don Quixote and Chaereas in Of Love and Rage. He is also excited to perform as Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake for the first time alongside principal Gillian Murphy as Odette/Odile. “Gillian is the queen of Swan Lake in my eyes,” he says. “I feel incredibly fortunate to be dancing with her.”
Next is the mixed-repertory program American Splendor, July 7–9, including Jessica Lang’s ZigZag, the New York premiere of Alonzo King’s Single Eye and the 75th-anniversary performances of George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations. Forster has enjoyed his first time working with King on Single Eye, noting King’s “philosophical” approach to movement. He will dance alongside fellow principal and old ABT Studio Company friend Isabella Boylston in Single Eye, appearing in several interchangeable roles.
“Usually, there’s one role you learn, and that’s it,” Forster explains. “But for Single Eye, [Bella] and I have learned both pas de deux and different solos, so at any given performance the audience may not ever see the same people doing the same roles.” This, he remarks, is surprisingly fitting amid the pandemic, which has caused performers to drop out or shift roles unexpectedly.
The season closes with Forster’s personal favorite, Romeo and Juliet, in which he will debut his dream role of Romeo with Murphy as Juliet. “R&J is what I’m most looking forward to, but it’s also the biggest challenge—there’s so much material. But it’s so iconic, and now I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to perform it with Gillian,” he shares.
Looking ahead, Forster feels equally nervous and excited. “Doing these roles is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. But as my career has progressed, I try to see the whole journey from start to finish instead of putting all of my expectations and stress on one performance.”
Principal Debuts (*Role, **New York City)
Joo Won Ahn: **Basilio (Don Q), **Dionysius (OLAR)
Skylar Brandt: **Kitri (Don Q)
Aran Bell: **Basilio (Don Q)
Daniel Camargo: *Dionysius (OLAR)
Jarod Curley: *Mithridates (OLAR)
Zhong-Jing Fang: *Queen of Babylon (OLAR)
Thomas Forster: **Espada (Don Q), **Chaereas (OLAR)
Patrick Frenette: *Mithridates (OLAR)
Catherine Hurlin: **Kitri (Don Q)
Andrii Ishchuk: **Espada (Don Q)
Chloe Misseldine: *Queen of Babylon (OLAR)
Calvin Royal III: *Chaereas (OLAR)
Hee Seo: **Callirhoe (OLAR)
Gabe Stone Shayer: **Espada (Don Q)
Christine Shevchenko: **Callirhoe (OLAR)
Cory Stearns: *King of Babylon (OLAR)
Cassandra Trenary: **Mercedes (Don Q)
Katherine Williams: **Mercedes (Don Q)