The Festive Season starts with The Nutcracker

© Dave Morgan

© Dave Morgan

As far as I’m concerned, it wouldn’t be Christmas without The Nutcracker. You know how the story goes – a little girl, Clara, is given a nutcracker for Christmas by a magician and when midnight strikes finds herself embroiled in a fight to the death with giant mice and then transported to the kingdom of sweets. All this, plus Tchaikovsky’s fabulous music and a Christmas tree that grows to giant proportions. It’s the essence of Christmas.

ENB Nutcracker

© Photography by ASH

The Nutcracker score was commissioned by the director of the Russian Imperial Theatres for the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, where it was first performed in 1892. The legendary ballet master Marius Petipa created the scenario, based on one of Hoffman’s fairytales, and Lev Ivanov provided the choreography. It got off to a rocky start but quickly became a Christmas favourite around the world.

© Photography by ASH

© Photography by ASH

This year I’m seeing two Nutcrackers, one before Christmas and one after. I’m kicking off with the English National Ballet production at the London Coliseum. It’s a relatively new production, created  by Wayne Eagling in 2010. Best bits for me are the skating scenes outside Clara’s house and the terrifying skeletal mouse heads.

© Photography by ASH

© Photography by ASH

ENB Nutcracker

© Photography by ASH

In January I’m seeing the Royal Ballet version at the Royal Opera House, with choreography by Peter Wright based on the the original Lev Ivanov choreography. This magical production has been  in the Royal Ballet Repertoire for more than thirty years. The designs are by the great ballet designer Julia Trevelyan Oman. Best moment for me is the scene where the Christmas tree grows so large it fills the stage. The Royal Ballet are our premier dance company and the quality of the dancing and of the orchestra are second to none.

RB NutcrackerI would dearly love to see the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Nutcracker, created by Peter Wright in 1990, which has the reputation of being one of the best around. The set designs, by John Macfarlane, look amazing. Sadly they’re not bringing it to London and I can’t manage a trip to Birmingham to see it. Maybe next year.

BRB NutcrackerAnd, just to round things off, there’s a version of The Nutcracker on ice at the Royal Albert Hall this year which looks like it could be fun.

Nutcracker on IceThis post is part of Emma, Kelly and Rebecca‘s Festive Season blog link up. You can see other posts in the linkup here.

14 thoughts on “The Festive Season starts with The Nutcracker

  1. I’m not very interested in ballet, or dance generally, but I would happily go to see any performance of a Tchaikovsky ballet, knowing that I be swept away by the music.

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  2. I used to love watching The Nutcracker on TV when I was little but I’ve not yet seen the proper ballet. Every year I think to myself I must go but then I forget! I must remember next year!

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  3. We take our kids to see the Nutcracker every Christmas. Something I used to do when I was younger. I didn’t realise there was a ice dance version this year. We’ve seen the ENB version several times already so not as enthusiastic about it this year.

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