To judge the enduring popularity of the Royal Ballet’s production of ‘The Nutcracker’, take a look at the company’s website. Few – if any – seats remain unsold for a run that started in November and ends on 12 January.
But Wellington audiences can be assured of getting tickets for a live transmission direct from The Royal Opera House on Thursday 8 December at 7.15pm – although they might be advised to book in advance.
Choreographed by Peter Wright (whose 90th birthday this revival celebrates) from Lev Ivanov’s original 1892 version and set to Tchaikovsky’s score, this is a timeless ballet, perfect for the season and offering classic entertainment for the whole family. Critics regard this production as the one against which all others are judged. One critic said simply, “This is the greatest Christmas ballet ever realised.”
The narrative itself is magical: the young Clara creeps downstairs on Christmas Eve to play with her favourite present – a Nutcracker doll given to her by her Uncle Drosselmayer. But the mysterious Drosselmeyer is waiting to sweep her off on a magical adventure which begins with a battle between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King and his army.
After defeating the Mouse King, the Nutcracker and Clara travel through the Land of Snow to the Kingdom of Sweets where the Sugar Plum Fairy treats them to an amazing display of dances.
Back home, Clara thinks she must have been dreaming – but then she recognises Drosselmeyer’s nephew – the human incarnation of her cherished Nutcracker doll.
Whilst one of the most treasured moments of the ballet has to be the Sugar Plum Fairy pas de deux, there’s a “rumbustious” Russian Dance, the “perfumed sensuality” of the Arabian Dance and the Chinese Dance – a new version created by Peter Wright – to relish too.
Francesca Hayward dances the role of Clara. The Guardian’s dance critic said, “She is gorgeously spontaneous, always in the moment as she responds to the small dramas of the family Christmas and to the magic journey that whisks her away to the Kingdom of Sweets. Her dancing has a windblown lightness, with flowing line and nuanced musical phrasing. She’s matched by Alexander Campbell as the Nutcracker. Their duet has a delightful sense of discovery. It’s as if the soaring jumps were powered by their excitement at the new world they find themselves in.”
To be able to see this ballet – live – without leaving the town is an opportunity not to be missed.
Booking information can be found on www.wellesleycinema.co.uk.