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Jan McNulty

Favourite (and not so favourite) Nutcracker productions

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Thanks Janet for starting this topic, a great one for the holidays.

 

The Nutcracker was the first live ballet I saw and was Derek Deane's version for English National Ballet and I saw it in 1998 at the Coliseum London so it has a special place in my heart. Only a few images remain in my memory apart from the general feeling of rapture - a 'moonwalking' Michael Jackson Doll, Clara Bourree-ing backwards at great speed diagonally across the stage, and the Sugar Plum Fairy's gargouillades (I didn't know the name of the step then but I remember the effect). I'm not sure it's considered a great version, but special for me. I paid 2 quid 50 pence for a seat in the balcony.

 

I also agree with Janet that Sir Peter Wright's version for Birmingham Royal Ballet is the main benchmark. I first saw it only 4 years ago and remember clearly the curtain going up on the wonderful xmas tableau of the Stahlbaum's house and Mrs Stahlbaum in her gorgeous red dress, making final decorations to the tree. The glamour and wonder of xmas crystallsed perfectly. The only time I saw the fabulous Elisha Willis dance the Sugar Plum Fairy.

 

Since then the only thing that would compeete is the Nutcracker I have just seen in Germany - the Staatsballet Nutcracker by Burlaka & Medvedeva. I've mentioned this on a couple of other threads but the sense of an enchanted magical Tale of Hoffman was very strong - a real discovery for me. 

 

I've seen the UK Royal Ballet version only in the cinema relay and YouTube and have to say I don't love it, but must reserve judgement until I've seen it live. And Eagling's version for ENB really should be superceded now in my opinion, but I have to say some fantastic dancers and of course the wonderful ENB sinfonia have provided some cherished memories for me from the times I have seen it.

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9 hours ago, Springbourne3 said:

 

 

 

Not so favourite was the BRB’s one act  production called the ‘Nutcracker Sweeties’ (1997? I think), music by Duke Ellington (the best thing about it!), costumes by Jasper Conran and was choreographed by David Bintley (not his best in my opinion).  I thought it was awful and has it ever been performed again? Did anyone else see it? 

 

 

 

 

 

Quote

 

I really liked Nutcracker Sweeties. Very tongue in cheek . Monica Zomora as Sugar Rum Cherry  was a particular delight as she sauntered and preened in that slinky red dress - a wonderful antidote to all the sweetness of The Nutcracker. And with costumes to die for. I seem to recall it was televised one Christmas. Can’t imagine that happening now. I think it has been revived by BRB a couple of times, at least once with Les Patineurs, but not sure what the third ballet was.

.

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And it even appeared on a video (and DVD?) with ... The Judas Tree :) 

 

(I have a feeling it's been shown along with Carmina Burana, but Janet will surely be able to confirm or correct.)

 

 

The bit I particularly liked about the Derek Deane Nutcracker for ENB was the transformation scene - get the right prince, and it could be incredibly effective.  And the Liquorice Allsorts Mirlitons, of course.

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Just checked and the third ballet was Le Braiser de la Fee. It was revived once more but not as part of a Christmas programme. In checking this, I discovered a lovely database that the Birmingham Hippodrome have developed called Hippodrome Heritage

A link below for those who have fond memories of London Festival Ballet’s Nutcracker from way back in the seventies 

http://birminghamhippodromeheritage.com/bht_collection/flyer-london-festival-ballet-presents-the-nutcracker-birmingham-hippodrome/

and here is a link to their Nutcracker archives.

http://birminghamhippodromeheritage.com/?s=The+Nutcracker

 

 

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36 minutes ago, Odyssey said:

Just checked and the third ballet was Le Braiser de la Fee. It was revived once more but not as part of a Christmas programme.

 

One can see why :)

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5 hours ago, Odyssey said:

 and here is a link to their Nutcracker archives.

http://birminghamhippodromeheritage.com/?s=The+Nutcracker

 

Nice to see a programme from 1995, when I saw the BRB Nutcracker on a school trip. Unfortunately I can't remember the cast I saw, apart from Simone Clarke as Clara, but it's interesting to see some possibilities.

 

Tangental query: is it the BRB Nutcracker where the Mouse King has a curved sword for a tail?

 

Reading this thread, as someone who's seen a lot more opera than ballet, I find it interesting that all the productions discussed seem to be a) attractive in appearance & b) reasonably suitable for the plot. If the Nutcracker were an opera we'd probably be discussing the latest production set in a 20th century dictatorship with the grey trenchcoat-clad mice toting Kalashnikovs & the Kingdom of Sweets turned into a polemic on capitalism causing an obesity crisis! Thank goodness it's a ballet!

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51 minutes ago, Dawnstar said:

 

 

Tangental query: is it the BRB Nutcracker where the Mouse King has a curved sword for a tail?

 

 

No, he has a proper rat's tail.

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2 hours ago, Dawnstar said:

 

Nice to see a programme from 1995, when I saw the BRB Nutcracker on a school trip. Unfortunately I can't remember the cast I saw, apart from Simone Clarke as Clara, but it's interesting to see some possibilities.

 

Tangental query: is it the BRB Nutcracker where the Mouse King has a curved sword for a tail?

 

Reading this thread, as someone who's seen a lot more opera than ballet, I find it interesting that all the productions discussed seem to be a) attractive in appearance & b) reasonably suitable for the plot. If the Nutcracker were an opera we'd probably be discussing the latest production set in a 20th century dictatorship with the grey trenchcoat-clad mice toting Kalashnikovs & the Kingdom of Sweets turned into a polemic on capitalism causing an obesity crisis! Thank goodness it's a ballet!

 

There actually wss a post-apocalyptic Nutcracker that the POB did in conjunction with Iolanta a few years ago. 

 

Here is their grand pas de deux:

 

Edited by Ivy Lin
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9 minutes ago, Ivy Lin said:

Here is their grand pas de deux:

 

Saw Osipova dance this at the ROH gala back in May: I liked it then - especially his respectful Petipa references - and like that video better again, so thanks!

 

I understand that the production as a whole is a bit of a stinker though - has anyone here seen it?

 

 

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2 hours ago, Dawnstar said:

Reading this thread, as someone who's seen a lot more opera than ballet, I find it interesting that all the productions discussed seem to be a) attractive in appearance & b) reasonably suitable for the plot. If the Nutcracker were an opera we'd probably be discussing the latest production set in a 20th century dictatorship with the grey trenchcoat-clad mice toting Kalashnikovs & the Kingdom of Sweets turned into a polemic on capitalism causing an obesity crisis! Thank goodness it's a ballet!

This made me chuckle Dawnstar! But I'm not so sure dance is entirely immune ....having just read Luke Jennings Dance of the Year 2018 piece in the links...

I am very sure many of the pieces he describes were extremely good but I couldn't help laughing heartlessly at the relentlessly depressing list of various evils covered in his list: violence, war, political intrigue, the Spanish flu pandemic (?) and culminating in  'the random cruelty of a universe indifferent to human concerns.'

A real bundle of laughs his year has been!

Give me Nutcracker  - preferably not the zombie version above - and indeed RB Nutcracker ends the list as a bit of no doubt welcome light relief......

 

 

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Just now, Mary said:

This made me chuckle Dawnstar! But I'm not so sure dance is entirely immune ....having just read Luke Jennings Dance of the Year 2018 piece in the links...

I am very sure many of the pieces he describes were extremely good but I couldn't help laughing heartlessly at the relentlessly depressing list of various evils covered in his list: violence, war, political intrigue, the Spanish flu pandemic (?) and culminating in  'the random cruelty of a universe indifferent to human concerns.'

A real bundle of laughs his year has been!

 

 

Off topic, but judging by the sour tone of Jennings' recent reviews, it's a good time for him to stop (and I think he knows it).

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3 hours ago, Dawnstar said:

Reading this thread, as someone who's seen a lot more opera than ballet, I find it interesting that all the productions discussed seem to be a) attractive in appearance & b) reasonably suitable for the plot

 

Bejart's Nutcracker has a sad starting point - a child next to a sparse Christmas tree, the mother has died, she then appears and leaves a gift for him, and so the magic begins. https://www.bejart.ch/en/ballet/nutcracker/   I understand Bejart captured part of his own childhood in this ballet as his mother died when he was seven years old.

 

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3 hours ago, Jan McNulty said:

 

No, he has a proper rat's tail.

Hmm, I'm sure I saw a production years ago where he had a sword for a tail. Maybe ENB then? Does this rings any bells with anyone? It would've been early-mid 90s.

 

I don't think I'll be watching the post-apocalyptic production!

Edited by Dawnstar

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1 hour ago, Mary said:

This made me chuckle Dawnstar! But I'm not so sure dance is entirely immune ....having just read Luke Jennings Dance of the Year 2018 piece in the links...

I am very sure many of the pieces he describes were extremely good but I couldn't help laughing heartlessly at the relentlessly depressing list of various evils covered in his list: violence, war, political intrigue, the Spanish flu pandemic (?) and culminating in  'the random cruelty of a universe indifferent to human concerns.'

A real bundle of laughs his year has been!

Were those what the pieces were originally written to be about though? I don't mind if people want to write depressing pieces as I can choose to avoid them. What I hate is when you show up expecting something nice, from the plot, but get a director's depressing re-writing that has very little to do with the original piece.

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Posted (edited)
On 30/12/2018 at 12:36, Amelia said:

Those who are not tired of “The Nutcracker” yet can watch now the streaming of a new production from the Perm Opera & Ballet Theatre. Choreography by Alexey Miroshnichenko:

https://yandex.ru/?stream_channel=1544436449&stream_id=45af40d466b1aa08a677cfb39d3a59a4

 

Timmie, you were asking about how long the streaming will continue. It was announced now that the internet access to "The Nutcracker" from Perm will be available until the 8th of January.

Edited by Amelia
tried to improve the layout
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One of the changes Sir Peter Wright made to Nutcracker was that in the original, the dolls emerged from these cute cabbages. I thought that was a clever touch. But now they've been replaced by these moving closets.

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I can't put them in any order, as it has been years since I have seen any Nutcracker, and I have never seen the one by Balanchine.  

 

But 3 I like are:

 

a) The one lots of people have mentioned, for BRB.  I think the staging is wonderful.  A terrific traditional Nutcracker.

b)  Nureyev's version  for the RB, which I have on DVD.  I know people have said that the PDD for the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Prince is not to their liking, but I think his choreography is one of the few that really uses all that gorgeous music.  Too many versions seem to have the dancers doing very little.

c)  I really enjoyed Matthew Bourne's production.  I found it very amusing.  

 

 

Edited by Fonty
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Posted (edited)
On 01/01/2019 at 00:51, Dawnstar said:

If the Nutcracker were an opera we'd probably be discussing the latest production set in a 20th century dictatorship with the grey trenchcoat-clad mice toting Kalashnikovs & the Kingdom of Sweets turned into a polemic on capitalism causing an obesity crisis!

Graeme Murphy's reimagining of it as the dying dreams and memories of an elderly Ballets Russes dancer, living in exile in Australia, does have grey-overcoated Bolshevik mice/rats etc...

 

The second act is her memories of touring life with the Ballets Russes...the Chinese dance becomes a stage full of t'ai chi practitioners entrancing the glamorous visitor in her rickshaw.

 

IMG_20190103_182349.jpg

IMG_20190103_181229.jpg

Edited by Sophoife
Images are screenshots from an Australian Ballet promo video on YouTube, with Leanne Stojmenov as Clara the Ballerina.

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On 30/12/2018 at 15:07, Amelia said:

 

Thank you so much, Springbourne3, for writing about that production and, Darlex, for mentioning that it can be found on internet. I have found it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xerl4cej3p4

What a delight to watch Eva Evdokimova with her unique gracefulness and charm.

Loved this production and many happy memories of it. I also enjoyed Youri Vamos The Nutcracker-A Christmas Carol  which I saw In Basel in the late 80's. 

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A delightful pas de deux from Nutcracker which starts as a pas de six.
I like that it is danced not as a cameo part (Sugar Plum Fairy) but by Marie and shows euphoria felt by a girl who became a princess in her dream.
https://vk.com/video-121803162_456239038
Renata Shakirova and Kimin Kim with his cosmic and elegant jumps.

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