Jump to content

The Royal Ballet: The Nutcracker, 2015-16


Recommended Posts

Well, I never realised that the set in the Kingdom of the Sweets was supposed to be the top of the cake in Act 1. But, then, I didn't realise until I read it in a review that the set in Act 2 of ENB's version was supposed to be the puppet theatre in Act 1. The national dances don't seem to make any sense in either version (IMO).

 

I saw ENB's Hampson version a couple of times but I can't remember the details of how it was done. The set in Act 2, with ice cream mountains, was cute. There was a traditional SPF in tutu (plus cavalier) who was different to Clara, who had a modern costume.

 

The national dances in the RB version, do sorta make sense (if anything in ballet ever makes 'sense'), as the visitors that arrive with Saint Nicholas represent each. They also appear as 'dolls' in the battle scene, set upon by the mice. So if Clara's visit to the Land of Sweets is a dream, then elements in the dream are taken from the party the evening before.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 292
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

I don't like the recent change that has Clara and H-P sitting on the floor by the proscenium arch to watch the gpd2, instead of sitting on a wide couch in a side niche.  Would anyone of decency really suggest that their guests of honour sat on the floor?

 

What??!!

 

I guess someone has finally realised that they're totally invisible to a significant portion of the audience if they're sitting on the couch (if that's what it is: I usually sit on the left, so barely get to see them)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does anyone do a production of Nutcracker with Clara being played by an 11 year old girl?  ENB in the old days used to do one, and I thought having a proper little girl made it all the more appealing to children.  At least it did to me when I was a child. 

 

 

What??!!

 

I guess someone has finally realised that they're totally invisible to a significant portion of the audience if they're sitting on the couch (if that's what it is: I usually sit on the left, so barely get to see them)

 

Do we need to see them? Are they interacting with the SPF?  I thought they were supposed to be a bit like the King and Queen in Sleeping Beauty.  We know they are present, but who looks at them when the Rose Adagio is being danced. 

 

I have no idea why the SPF has to have that horrible wig.  Sugar plums come in all colours, so why can't the dancers just have either their own hair, or something that matches their colouring, with a bit of sparkle added? 

 

I think the best version of the Kingdom of the Sweets is the one by Matthew Bourne, where you literally get dancing sweets.  Fabulous!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The National dances are not simply intended to satisfy the nineteenth century taste for dances which represent different nations, As this is Konfituremburg they represent sweets and confectionery from different countries. The Spanish dance, hot Spanish chocolate; the Chinese dance, green tea and Chinese tea cakes.Russian dance,Danse des Bouffons Candy Canes;Mother Ginger, who we never see in Royal Ballet productions,Ginger;the Mirlitons , reed flutes but also a confectionery using Marzipan.The Sugar Plum Fairy is actually Fee Dragee a specific expensive sweet and also everything desirable. A similar usage to the word "plum" in the phrase a "plum job".All the sweets and confectionery referred to in the ballet were expensive and highly desirable in the late nineteenth century

Edited by FLOSS
  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I went to the first night on Tuesday and was totally beguiled.  I've got to the point where I normally give the Nutcracker a miss - seen it so many times and do get bored. So I booked a ticket because I happened to be in London on that night,  I was more than amply rewarded and would go so far to say as this is the best Nutcracker I have ever seen - and I started when I was 4 years old 

 

Dream cast - Gary Avis (I put him first deliberately), Alexander Campbell and Francesca Hayward, Steven McRae and Iana Salenko. Brilliant all round in very different ways. Gary Avis - what can one say. He held the stage, with his cape swishes and multiple glitter scatterings. I was in Christmas heaven.  I think he set the scene for the rest of the cast.  Dream pairings for the other principal roles, beautifully executed dancing and blissful ambience. Never have I waxed so lyrical about a Nutcracker.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sim, You are quite right, the Arabian dance represents coffee, Presumably Coffee Arabica, the earliest cultivated form of coffee..I can't think how I came to omit it from my earlier post..Is anyone able to offer an explanation for the omission of Mother Ginger and her brood.? They are in Balanchine's version of Nutcracker and as the ballet is short  it is strange that that they makes no appearance in the Royal Ballet's current version of the ballet, but they did not appear in the Nureyev version either. Of course they could be early casualties of attempts to tidy up and improve the ballet, their inclusion in the Balanchine version may simply be the result of his own memories of the ballet. 

Edited by FLOSS
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was getting bored too of RB's Nutcracker but I felt the Opening Night cast on Tuesday blew new life into this ballet. I'd previously seen Hayward as Clara and she was lovely again, so was Campbell. The children were so well rehearsed and they looked very much at ease on the stage, a perfect bunch of very young ballet pupils.  Olivia Cowley was well cast in "Arabian Dance" and looked wonderful. Yasmine Naghdi, a truly glamorous and luminous Rose Fairy, lit up the entire stage, and the Character dancers gave it their all. Salenko was just about ok for me, technically very competent but she lacked glamour and warmth. Of course we couldn't do without "our" marvellous Gary Avis! Very tempted to see this cast once more.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is anyone able to offer an explanation for the omission of Mother Ginger and her brood.? They are in Balanchine's version of Nutcracker and as the ballet is short  it is strange that that they makes no appearance in the Royal Ballet's current version of the ballet, but they did not appear in the Nureyev version either.

 

I have a feeling someone found the music dull or uninspiring, but I could be wrong.  If they did, I would agree with them :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The National dances are not simply intended to satisfy the nineteenth century taste for dances which represent different nations, As this is Konfituremburg they represent sweets and confectionery from different countries. The Spanish dance, hot Spanish chocolate; the Chinese dance, green tea and Chinese tea cakes.Russian dance,Danse des Bouffons Candy Canes;Mother Ginger, who we never see in Royal Ballet productions,Ginger;the Mirlitons , reed flutes but also a confectionery using Marzipan.The Sugar Plum Fairy is actually Fee Dragee a specific expensive sweet and also everything desirable. A similar usage to the word "plum" in the phrase a "plum job".All the sweets and confectionery referred to in the ballet were expensive and highly desirable in the late nineteenth century

 

I always assumed that a sugar plum was in fact an Elvas plum, a crystallised greengage from Portugal which is a Christmas speciality and still sold by Fortnum & Mason.  But I think it is the SPF's partner who has the strangest name: Prince Cough Candy.  I used to love cough candy as a child but it doesn't seem very luxurious or special.

 

Linda

Edited by loveclassics
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does anyone do a production of Nutcracker with Clara being played by an 11 year old girl?  ENB in the old days used to do one, and I thought having a proper little girl made it all the more appealing to children.  At least it did to me when I was a child. 

 

 

 

San Francisco Ballet still casts Clara from the young students at the school. I appreciate that might be a fairly long trip from where you're located, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OK, here goes...why do the RB keep casting Salenko? No one on this site seems to like her and despite a certain male principal raving about her on Twitter and Instagram, I can't see her appeal either. Please don't all attack me! I am genuinely bewildered.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fiz, I think we have had this (fruitless) discussion on several other threads.  

 

I hate to say it but the members on this site and other social media are probably not the majority of ballet watchers and perhaps there are many people out there who adore her without going into print on the internet.

  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I really enjoyed last night's Nut, and it was a special treat to see Federico Bonelli dancing with Lauren again.  No disrespect to Matthew Golding, whom he replaced, but Lauren and Feddy are such a good partnership.  Both are on fine fettle and made noble rulers of the Kingdom of the Sweets.  Frankie Hayward and Alexander Campbell also dance really well together;  he is getting better and better with each passing month it seems to me.  His mime was very clear;  and his technique during the pdd with Clara at the end of Act 1 was astounding.  

 

In the party scene, there were lots of little touches I liked, especially Kirsten McNally's portrayal of Grandma.  I loved her facial expressions, and I loved how, during the dance, she tried to make a beeline for the young, handsome Tristan Dyer, ignoring her old husband's gestures for her to come back!  I have never seen that before and it did raise some chuckles all around.  

 

For me, the main negative is the battle between the mice and the toy soldiers.  Someone else has mentioned this:  it is soporific and gives no idea that there is a conflict between good and evil going on, or any kind of conflict at all.  I think they could really do with beefing this up a bit.  My daughter said it was 'really boring'.  I think that the music is played a bit too sweetly in this scene as well.  I grew up in NYC so the Nut that I used to see every year as a little girl was Balanchine's back in the 60s and 70s.  I remember being terrified of the battle scene;  it was dark and forceful....but the contrast to when the battle was won was really evident.  

 

I too have long wondered why Mother Ginger is often left out of productions here in the UK.  Again, I remember as a child one of my favourite moments of the ballet (besides the humongous growing tree!) was when Mother Ginger used to sidle out of the wings with her huge dress, and the children used to pop out one by one.  I can still remember me and the other kids in the audience laughing with delight at that....and I am sure I still would.  I actually like the music, as well.  I was very happy when Christopher Hampson put it into his Nut for ENB a few years ago.  

 

The 'international' dances were all beautifully done, my favourite being the Arabian, danced by Olivia Cowley, Eric Underwood, Nicol Edmonds and Tom Whitehead.  It was langorous and gently erotic, just as the music says it should be.  The children in Act 1 were, as others have said, really well rehearsed and added to the atmoshpere of a proper Christmas Eve party.

 

I really liked Tristan Dyer in Act 1, as the young man who dances with Clara.  He and Frankie were just on the button as the shy young people who quietly fancied each other.  Tristan always makes the most of whatever role he is dancing, no matter how small, and last night was no exception.

 

Finally, a special mention for Yasmine Naghdi....her presence onstage is always a joy, and last night she was a happy, warm and confident Rose Fairy, with just the right combination of attack and grace.  I would love to see her as Clara....maybe next time around she will get the chance.

 

This is the cast that will be broadcast to cinemas on Wednesday night (not sure if Golding will be back by then), so do catch it if you can.  After this past year's performances, I haven't been as positive about the up-and-coming ranks in the company for a very long time.  Well done to them all, as well as to the already-established dancers.  For the first time this unseasonally warm December, I felt festive last night!

  • Like 11
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Finally, a special mention for Yasmine Naghdi....her presence onstage is always a joy, and last night she was a happy, warm and confident Rose Fairy, with just the right combination of attack and grace.  I would love to see her as Clara....maybe next time around she will get the chance.

 

 

 

I'd rather see her go straight to SPF myself...

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does anyone do a production of Nutcracker with Clara being played by an 11 year old girl?  ENB in the old days used to do one, and I thought having a proper little girl made it all the more appealing to children.  At least it did to me when I was a child. 

 

 

The National Ballet of Canada's version by James Kudelka has a Clara (though her name is Marie) played by a young girl. She has a brother approx the same age, called Misha (in honour of Baryshnikov) and they go through the ballet together, unlike most productions where the brother is just a brat in the party scene.  This was intentional to give a good role to a young boy ballet student. They do squabble throughout the ballet but one of the plot lines is their learning to get along.

In addition, there are by a conservative estimate about a kajillion children throughout the whole ballet. Boosts the ticket sales to adoring sisters, cousins, aunts, grandparents etc etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't like the recent change that has Clara and H-P sitting on the floor by the proscenium arch to watch the gpd2, instead of sitting on a wide couch in a side niche.  Would anyone of decency really suggest that their guests of honour sat on the floor?

 

Have they been moved back, or were they just out of my eyeline this evening?

 

I really enjoyed last night's Nut, and it was a special treat to see Federico Bonelli dancing with Lauren again.  No disrespect to Matthew Golding, whom he replaced, but Lauren and Feddy are such a good partnership.  Both are on fine fettle and made noble rulers of the Kingdom of the Sweets.  

 

The downside of this was that Bonelli didn't dance his scheduled performance with Laura Morera this evening :(  Instead, we got what I assume was an unscheduled debut by Alexander Campbell in the role.  (Is that a first?  Dancing Hans-Peter *and* SPF Cavalier in the same run?)

 

For me, the main negative is the battle between the mice and the toy soldiers.  Someone else has mentioned this:  it is soporific and gives no idea that there is a conflict between good and evil going on, or any kind of conflict at all.  I think they could really do with beefing this up a bit.  My daughter said it was 'really boring'.  I think that the music is played a bit too sweetly in this scene as well.  I grew up in NYC so the Nut that I used to see every year as a little girl was Balanchine's back in the 60s and 70s.  I remember being terrified of the battle scene;  it was dark and forceful....but the contrast to when the battle was won was really evident.  

 

I too have long wondered why Mother Ginger is often left out of productions here in the UK.  Again, I remember as a child one of my favourite moments of the ballet (besides the humongous growing tree!) was when Mother Ginger used to sidle out of the wings with her huge dress, and the children used to pop out one by one.  I can still remember me and the other kids in the audience laughing with delight at that....and I am sure I still would.  I actually like the music, as well.  I was very happy when Christopher Hampson put it into his Nut for ENB a few years ago.  

 

Except that all he did to it was to have the children marching around dressed as presents.  Wasn't it in the Derek Deane version before that, too? 

 

I agree with you about the battle - it did look rather tame, and a bit cutesy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you BBB and MrsBBB. So lovely that he and Laura could be on stage together for his last show.

 

I was really pleased to be able to talk briefly (and appreciatively) with Ricardo on Wednesday night. A number of us watched him coaching Yasmine and Matthew B at a session in October and it is clear to see that he will continue to be a real asset to the RB in his new role.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lovely photos of Ricardo on Twitter thank you BBB and Mrs BBB. I always liked Ricardo too and fondly remember him being coached for Rubies by Patricia Neary with Alexandra Ansanelli in the Jewels Insight Day.

Back to Nutcracker I saw NYCBs last year for the first time and loved it. I now have it on DVD. I had never seen Mother Ginger before but enjoyed that scene. It is a lovely colouful production and how I wish I could be in NYC to see it again.

Regarding Iana Salenko I happen to like her a lot having been familiar with her from SB Berlin. She seems to be spending a lot of time here partnering McRae and I do wonder why a partner from within RB cannot be found for him. It must be hard for Salenko with a husband and child to be constantly travelling between London and Berlin.

Edited by Don Q Fan
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Regarding Iana Salenko I happen to like her a lot having been familiar with her from SB Berlin. She seems to be spending a lot of time here partnering McRae and I do wonder why a partner from within RB cannot be found for him. It must be hard for Salenko with a husband and child to be constantly travelling between London and Berlin.

 

 

On one of the other threads with the same interminable discussion didn't someone find an interview with her where she said (IIRC and paraphrasing) that she couldn't commit full time to RB because of her family commitments in Berlin?

 

We have been over this so often now I am disinclined to go and find the discussion in question.

 

I am going to a Christmas lunch on Wednesday and if I am not too incapacitated I have decided to go to the live streaming, breaking the duck for me.  (Well there is an incentive!).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share


×
×
  • Create New...