Friday, 18 December 2015

'The Nutcracker' by The Royal Ballet at The Royal Opera House

What could be more Christmassy than seeing 'The Nutcracker' at the grand Royal Opera House with enormous Christmas trees and sparkly garlands wrapped around the pillars outside? O yes, the look of the place raises the ante for the show and it delivered to all my expectations. What a wonderful show!

I've seen Matthew Bourne's interpretation of the story a couple of times and loved it, but this was my first viewing of the 'traditional' show and featured the choreography of Peter Wright. And what a marvellous show it was too, perfect for Christmas, especially since it's set at Christmas.

It's Christmas Eve and Clara is given the Nutcracker, a toy that contains the soul of Hans-Peter, the magician and toy-maker's nephew. She creeps downstairs after the party to make sure the toy is all right and is transported to a magical world as the Christmas Tree grows and grows and the toy soldiers battle with the mice and their king. Clara and the Nutcracker prevail to be transported to the Land of Snow with ballerina's as snowflakes filling the stage. After the half-time we go to the court of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Prince for some grand entertainments before returning to Clara's home before dawn and, astonishingly, Hans-Peter is now free from the Nutcracker and loans Clara his cape to protect her from the snow and cold. Our hero is safe and who knows what might happen in the future…

I loved this production! The magic and beauty of the whole thing, the enormous Christmas Tree growing and growing as Clara shrinks, the wonderful snowflakes and then the Fairy and her Prince. O wow. Once again, it drives home to me that ballet isn't just a load of athletic young people doing their stuff on stage, it's the whole production - the music, the dance, the sets, the costumes, the lighting and the whole atmosphere of the thing that ignites the Art.

I loved our heroes in Francesca Hayward as Clara and Alexander Campbell as the Nutcracker, Gary Avis as the magician with his swirling cloak and the lovely Iana Salenko and Steven McRae as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Prince (who were also my Romeo and Juliet). Thank you Royal Ballet for introducing me to 'The Nutcracker' and welcoming in Christmas!

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