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Royal New Zealand Ballet Cancels Shows But Opera House Pivot Keeps Dream Alive


With a little Kiwi ingenuity, Wellington’s Opera House has made a swift pivot for the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s (RNZB) Ryman Healthcare season of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, opening 28 October.

Changes to the auditorium, which will remain in place for all subsequent events until the end of the year, allow the RNZB to perform to socially-distanced audiences within the Government’s event and hospitality restrictions. It includes the removal of entire rows of seats, strictly limited numbers and seating in household groups, distance between audience members, mask wearing, reduced interval time, no bar service (but free water), and opening up of all entrances and exits, among others.

With the support of WellingtonNZ and Venues Wellington, the RNZB is able to proceed with its scheduled performances, along with a few extras, in the Ballet’s home city. While the capacity has been reduced by 80% overall, the extra shows mean everyone who has bought a ticket thus far will be able to come. Any additional ticket buyers will need to go on a waitlist.

RNZB Artistic Director Patricia Barker says, “For our dancers, performing to an audience is everything – it is what drives their passion and what their dreams are built on. We are deeply disappointed we will not be touring this beautiful production across the nation as planned but extremely grateful to WellingtonNZ and Venues Wellington for working with us to retain our performances here in Wellington.”

However, the requirement to reduce theatre capacities in order to maintain social distancing means it is not viable for the RNZB to perform outside Wellington. It also means that Wellington performances will not be accompanied by the NZSO as originally planned. Instead, the original recording of the NZSO performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, made when it premiered in 2015, will be used.

Executive Director Lester McGrath says, “We’ve made this difficult decision – again – because of the restrictions on live performances designed to keep audiences safe during Alert Level Two. If we are able to perform for live audiences, as we are in Wellington thanks to the support of Venues Wellington and WellingtonNZ, we are committed to doing so. We know that these will be truly magical, uplifting performances that will give everyone lucky enough to see them a real boost."

The following performances have been cancelled:

Municipal Theatre, Napier 5 and 6 November

Regent on Broadway, Palmerston North 11 November

Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch 18, 19, 20 November

Civic Theatre, Invercargill 24 November

Regent Theatre, Dunedin 27 November

Aotea Centre, Auckland 2, 3, 4 and 5 December

Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna 10 and 11 December


McGrath says, “We are sorry to not be touring this magical ballet nationally. It has a special place in the RNZB’s repertoire and in many ways would have been the perfect way to finish what has been a challenging year for many New Zealanders.

“There are plans to film and broadcast the production before Christmas so those who have missed out will get a chance in the near future to enjoy the magical show from the comfort of their own living room. We also hope that it will not be too long before A Midsummer Night’s Dream is seen across Aotearoa again.”

Ticket holders for the Wellington season will be contacted directly by the ticketing team to rebook their tickets or, if they prefer, get a full refund. Ticket holders for performances in other centres will be contacted directly to arrange a refund.

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