The Nutcracker is the ballet that even those who don’t ‘do’ ballet will have seen, taken by their family as a very special children’s Christmas treat.
For many years the Royal Ballet’s Peter Wright production has marked Christmas at the Royal Opera House. This year it’s not live on stage, having been replaced by a revival of Coppélia, but don’t despair: it’s at a cinema near you!
The Royal Ballet has made a recording of a live 2016 performance available for cinema viewing over the Christmas season, offering an alternative to live performances of this ballet elsewhere in London, the missed thrill of a live stage performance offset by considerable savings on ticket prices.
The story is glorious, packed full with dancing for both soloists and corps de ballet. At a Christmas Eve family party the magician Herr Drosselmeyer gives young Clara a nutcracker doll. As midnight strikes, so everything becomes magical – watch out for the lavishly decorated Christmas tree growing 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.
Artists of the Royal Ballet in The Nutcracker © ROH 2016. Photo: Tristram Kenton
There they watch, and join in a variety of divertissements, and meet the Sugar Plum Fairy, one of the most famous roles in classical ballet.
Lev Ivanov’s choreography, reworked by Peter Wright, responds deftly to Tchaikovsky’s glorious score; sumptuous designs by the late Julia Trevelyan Oman are a feast for the eyes.
And what a cast! The Sugar Plum Fairy is danced by principal Lauren Cuthbertson, her Prince is the charming Federico Bonelli. Clara is danced by the irresistible Francesca Hayward (soon to be seen in quite a different role in the star-studded film adaptation of the musical Cats). Alexander Campbell is the nutcracker, and the remarkable character artist Gary Avis gives us a suitably mysterious Drosselmeyer.
Elsewhere there are plenty of opportunities to spot Royal Ballet stars, for example, Marcelino Sambé, since promoted to principal, as the toy Soldier, partnering the very exciting Mayara Magri’s Vivandière.
|What||The Royal Ballet, The Nutcracker in cinemas|
11 Dec 19 – 16 Jan 20, Times vary according to cinemas Dur.: 2 hours 15 mins inc two intervals