Nutcracker, Alexander Campbell – photo Tristram Kenton
It is always a sign of the festive season when productions of The Nutcracker begin to appear on stages all over the world. One of the most lavish productions in London is The Royal Ballet performances at the Royal Opera House which are based on Peter Wright’s classic production. Remarkably considering it is one of the most popular ballets in the world, the original 1892 production of Nutcracker was considered too lavish and dull and was widely criticised. Subsequent productions have led to its prominence in the ballet repertory but many have had problems bringing the two acts into a coherent whole. Peter Wright’s solution was to make Drosselmeyer a central figure who guides us through the story.
The Nutcracker,Gary Avis as Herr Drosslemeyer ROH photo Bill Cooper
In this production, the charismatic magician, Herr Drosselmeyer ( Gary Avis ) is facing the dilemma of having his nephew turned into a Nutcracker by a vengeful Queen of the Mice. The only way the spell can be broken is for the Nutcracker to slay the Mouse King and to win the love of a young girl despite his unattractive appearance.
It is at the Stahlbaums’ Christmas party that the magic really begins with a levitating child, explosions, magic tricks and a spectacular, growing Christmas tree. Clara (Francesca Hayward) is full of naive charm as she joins with the enthusiastic Nutcracker/Hans Peter (Alexander Campbell ) to carry out the magician’s plot. The always enjoyable fight between the mice and the toy soldiers allow the young members of the production to show their talents before the enchanting Waltz of the Snowflakes closes the first act.
The Nutcracker-Steven Mcrae as the Prince, Iana Salenko as the Sugar Plum Fairy ROH photo Tristram Kenton
If the first act is full of theatrical magic , the second act concentrates more on the dancing with the iconic Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. The Sugar Plum Fairy (Iana Salenko) and her Prince (Steven MacRae) delighted the audience before a series of divertissements that allowed other members of The Royal Ballet to display their considerable skills.
Julia Trevelyan Oman’s set designs draws the audience into a fantasy 19th-century Christmas which sparkles and delights, however all the visuals delights of the production are complimented by Tchaikovsky’s magical score played with considerable panache by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House led by Boris Gruzin.
This really is a ballet that provides plenty of stunning entertainment for young and old, this ever popular Nutcracker revival is a delightful introduction to ballet and provides a wonderful showcase for all the different age groups of the Royal Ballet company. The Nutcracker runs from 8th December until 14th January and if you cannot make a live performance it will also be seen in cinemas across the world as part of the Royal Opera House Live Cinema season on 16 December 2015.
Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended
If you would like further information or book tickets, visit the Royal Opera House website here
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