The Nutcracker is the ballet that even those who don't 'do' ballet know about, partly because of Tchaikovsky's sublimely inspired score, and partly, too, because it's become so closely associated with Christmas. And the Royal Ballet's production, reworked by Sir Peter Wright after Lev Ivanov's original Russian choreography, is as close to perfection as humanly possible.
Last year's production was badly affected by Covid-19 restrictions: even a skilfully scaled-down production to observe social distancing had to close down after just a couple of performances when a new lockdown was imposed just before Christmas.
This Christmas season, all things being equal, we shall be able to enjoy The Royal Ballet's The Nutcracker in all its glory.
Packed full with dancing for both soloists and corps de ballet, Act I of The Nutcracker takes place on Christmas Eve in the German home of the well-to-do Stahlbaum family, sumptuously designed with a wealth of Biedermeier period detail by Julia Trevelyan Oman. Among the guests is the magician Herr Drosselmeyer.
Thomas Whitehead as Drosselmeyer in The Royal Ballet's The Nutcracker. Photo: © ROH 2016 Helen Maybanks
Hiding a painful secret in his heart, Drosselmeyer gives his god-daughter, young Clara, a nutcracker doll. As midnight strikes, everything becomes magical – watch out for the lavishly decorated Christmas tree that grows at Drosselmeyer’s command – and Clara and her nutcracker, now turned into a handsome young man, are whisked by Drosselmeyer on a trip to the Kingdom of the Sweets through wintry snow.
There in Act II they watch, and join in a variety of divertissements, and meet the Sugar Plum Fairy, one of the most famous roles in classical ballet.
The Nutcracker has plenty of roles for the company's principal dancers and soloists; and with so many performances programmed, there will be a huge variety of casts to choose from. Among this season's Sugar Plum Fairies we'll be able to see newly promoted principals Fumi Kaneko, Mayara Magri and Anna Rose O'Sullivan, as well as much loved established ballerinas such as Marianela Nuñez, with Vadim Muntagirov as her Prince, Natalia Osipova paired off with Reece Clarke, Lauren Cuthbertson returning from maternity leave and partnered by the compelling William Bracewell, and the Royal's most musical ballerina, Laura Morera, also partnered by William Bracewell.
Laura Morera as Sugar Plum Fairy and Federico Bonelli as her Prince in The Royal Ballet's The Nutcracker. Photo: © ROH 2013 Tristram Kenton
In short, the Royal Ballet's The Nutcracker is a Christmas treat sans pareil; and with age guidance at five-plus, it's a treat for the whole family!
|What||The Royal Ballet, The Nutcracker 2021|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
23 Nov 21 – 08 Jan 22, 19:30 many matinees at different times. Consult website Dur.: 2 hours 30 mins approx inc one interval
|Website||Click here to book|