Curtain goes up on The Royal Ballet’s Nutcracker at 7.30pm local time tonight and will be broadcast to cinemas internationally.
Clara is Anna Rose O’Sullivan and Hans-Peter/The Nutcracker is Marcelino Sambé. The Sugar Plum Fairy is danced by Marianela Nuñez and The Prince by Vadim Muntagirov. Drosselmeyer is Gary Avis and Barry Wordsworth conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.
Peter Wright’s interpretation of The Nutcracker has been enchanting children and adults alike since its first performance by The Royal Ballet in 1984. Lev Ivanov’s 1892 ballet combined with Tchaikovsky’s sumptuous, iconic score are presented in a festive period setting with vivid designs to make this a charming and magical production.
Loosely based on the story by E.T.A. Hoffmann, the ballet begins in the 19th-century German home of the Stahlbaums, where they are hosting a lively Christmas party. The period setting is captured in opulent detail by Julia Trevelyan Oman’s designs, which include authentic Christmas tree decorations that are magically brought to life. Wright’s choreography ingeniously incorporates surviving fragments of the ballet’s original material, including the sublime pas de deux for the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Prince. But in emphasizing the relationship between Clara and the Nutcracker, the production also gains a touching subtext of first love.
Very much the key figure in Wright’s version of the story (drawn from a tale by ETA Hoffman) is Herr Drosselmeyer, a magician and maker of clocks and mechanical toys, as well as godfather to the young heroine, Clara. This is a “character” rather than a dancing role, but an agile one nonetheless, and Gary Avis is a master of it, striding the stage with energetic dignity, twirling his blue magic cloak with great flair, giving the character emotional depth — as when he summons up his magic powers like a force of nature.
David Dougill, The Sunday Times 2017
Wright’s 1984 production, aimed to be as faithful as possible to Tchaikovsky and Ivanov’s original. In 2001, he revised it, giving more prominence to the young heroine Clara and to the magician Drosselmeyer, who directs the action. At this performance, the different elements blended beautifully, from the gilded period detail of Julia Trevelyan Oman’s designs to the glitter of Drosselmeyer’s magic tricks.
Zoë Anderson, The Independent 2017
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.