American Ballet Theater hopes to lure audiences next year with a bit of magical realism: The company announced on Wednesday that Christopher Wheeldon’s “Like Water for Chocolate,” based on the novel by the Mexican writer Laura Esquivel, will anchor its summer season at the Metropolitan Opera House.
The three-act ballet, a coproduction with the Royal Ballet that garnered largely positive reviews when it premiered in London last summer, will be performed a dozen times in New York, beginning June 22. It is part of a four-week season that also includes three repertory classics: “Giselle,” “Swan Lake” and “Romeo and Juliet.”
“Like Water for Chocolate,” an extravagant ballet with a plot involving cooking and magic, is the most logistically complex work that Ballet Theater has ever staged. The company’s summer season will feature fewer performances this year to allow time to build and take down sets.
“Just visually, it’s going to be quite a spectacle,” said Susan Jaffe, the incoming artistic director and a former principal with the company. “But the choreography is also very deep.”
The season is the last planned by Kevin McKenzie, the outgoing artistic director, who has led Ballet Theater for three decades.
Jaffe, who will begin work next month, said she would make it a priority to feature diverse choreographers.
“There are great storytellers out there that are female,” she said, “and we want to give them an opportunity as well.”
Ballet Theater hopes the new season will continue to drive its recovery from the pandemic, which forced the cancellation of two seasons and cost the company millions of dollars in anticipated ticket revenue and touring fees.
Ballet Theater returned to the Met stage this past summer, its first season there since the start of the pandemic. The company recently finished its season at Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, which included the premiere of Christopher Rudd’s “Lifted,” featuring an all-Black cast and creative team.
Audience attendance for the Koch season this year was up about 6 percent compared with last year, though it remains below prepandemic levels.
Jaffe said she was impressed by the turnout.
“You could feel the gratitude in the audience,” she said. “It was palpable.”