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Richard LH

The Royal Ballet: The Nutcracker, December 2018 - January 2019

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6 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

 

What really makes him, for me, is that even in large ensemble numbers he exudes enjoyment - there’s nowhere he’d rather be.

there's something marvellous about watching a dancer  who looks as he/she is enjoying performing. I also like a dancer who can make me believe that what he/she is doing is so easy that anyone can do it! Yes, I know about all the work that is necessary to become even a good dancer, but when I'm watching i don't want to know about it!

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There's some magic tricks in the BRB version as well....I still don't know how Drosselmeyer got the head back on to the Nutcracker doll which lay broken in two parts on the floor. He made the head slide along the floor to the body of the doll but he was some distance away as he did it ....am supposing some extra powerful magnet of sorts but it was really well done ....it was a magical touch and the five year old in me believed it!

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A few scribbles on a couple nutcrackers seen on 7 December where I took a friend who had never seen it before (but has been getting into ballet over the last 5 years) and last night with my mother who has been going to Covent Garden since the 1970s and enjoys the odd Nutcracker every now and again, with the following casts:

 

7 December 

Clara: Emma maguire 

Nutcracker / Hans Peter: Luca Acri 

SGP fairy: Yasmine Naghdi 

SGP prince: Riochi Hirano

 

21 December:

Clara: Meghan Grace Hinkis

Nutcracker/ Hans Peter: Luca Acri 

SGP fairy: Fumi Kaneko 

SGP prince: William Bracewell 

 

On both evenings, Christopher Saunders was Drosselmeyer, Leo Dixon Clara's friend, and Yuhui Choe the Rose Fairy. 

Barry wordsworth conducted on the 7th, and Kassels on the 21st. 

 

I was a bit worried I'd be a bit jaded by the time I saw the second show, but the waterworks came on like clockwork in the tree and toy transformation scene and continued until the climax of the snowflake waltz. I always ponder what is it about the first act that is so moving time and time again aside from the glorious music, and my friend summed it up really well by saying the story made him believe that "there is good in the world" and feel a sense of wonder and possibility. 

 

Luca Acri had lovely elevation and told his story with boyish charm. Maguire and Hinkis were both lovely as Clara, I'd say I preferred Maguire's characterisation, and Hinkis' technique which meant that the pas de deux with acri / Hinkis flowed more. As much as I like Saunders, I wish I'd been able to see Avis as Drosselmeyer once this season. I find Saunders plays Drosselmeyer as fun loving and mischievous, and doesn't seem too sad that his nephew has been turned into a wooden nutcracker. It could be that he knows that the spell will be broken, and as the puppet master that he is, he knows that all will be well since he is controlling the story! Last night he moonwalked out during his red run and puffed out lots of glitter from his mouth which brought a great cheer and he seems like a fun loving and unflappable sort of person in real life! On the 7th, his levitation trick didn't work and you would never have noticed as he just walked down the steps as if it was the most normal thing in the world. What I adore about Avis is the inner world that he brings to Drosselmeyer, his complexity and occasional darkness, and how he pines for his nephew, the last scene when he is slumped over his table and his nephew returns and how you feel his heart explode with joy and relief is so moving. It never fails to make me burst into tears! Saunders is all jollity, but to me less moving in comparison. 

 

In the Spanish on both nights, Calvin Richardson stood out, all smiles and haughty snaps of the wrists and heels.

 

In the Arabian on both nights, Izmendiar Mendizabal gave a great side eye and displayed a fierceness that to me just about succeeds in countering the naffness of the pink pantaloons and the stylised territorialness of the men which I find a bit cringe. One side eye from her and you realise who is really running the show. Yes girl!

 

In the Chinese, on 7.12 I was lucky to  see Joseph Sissens and Marcelino Sambe together. What a pair they made, you could just tell they were having so much fun together and it was contagious! The audience lapped it up and roared and when they did their red run during the applause they came out with grands jetés to more cheers. What unaffected showmen they are! They have such stage presence and for me have the chops to be principals just on pure technique. I really wish I'd be been able to see Sambe as nutcracker this run but dates wise it wasn't to be. 

 

In the Russian on 7.12, Leo Dixon and David Yudes (?) were technically brilliant and just brought the house down.

 

Yuhui choe was a very musical Rose fairy on both evenings, never rushed and serene, taking the tricky and fast choreography in her stride. You never worry that she will hit those counts, and can let yourself breathe and relax in the safety of that knowledge! 

 

Yasmine naghdi and Riochi Hirano, and Fumi Kaneko and William Bracewell as the SGPF and P... I had seen Hirano last year with Akane Takada and they had really wowed my socks off with their energy and brio, they made the GPDD feel thrilling, and I was always on the edge of my seat as they were both really going for it! I didn't have that same feeling with Naghdi / Hirano, or Kaneko / Bracewell. I liked both GPDDs and they both felt very stately but didn't have that same feeling of breathlessness, and maybe controlled danger? Both men were good partners, but I feel that Hirano was more assured and in control and you knew that Naghdi was in safe hands. 

 

Naghdi was a musical SGPF, and is so technically assured, her SGPF was very crisp and precise, and she played the SGPF as serene and queen like. In comparison, Kaneko, also very musical, was more lyrical and soft, and her SGPF seemed very gentle and benevolent. Both to me were different takes on the SGPF, and I liked both. 

 

Bracewell nearly came a cropper in his solo doing a saut de basque but just about saved himself which was quite thrilling, but it did mean I couldn't watch the rest of his solo too closely as i was too nervous for the rest of it! He was brilliant in Winter Dreams earlier this week, and to me is possibly one of the best actors amongst the RB men. I feel that his partnering and strength will continue to grow as he continues to get plum roles. 

 

Even though both my casts were very similar, seeing both shoes did make me think quite how rich and diverse the RB is, and sent me off full of Christmas cheer. Happy holidays to all! 

Edited by Clara_f
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Sorry moderators, my post seems to have posted twice not sure why. Would you mind please deleting the first one? Thank you :)

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I took my nephew to his first ballet- the Nutcracker matinee today. I have to say all the staff at ROH were fantastic- so welcoming and nice to him. It was good to be able to go in to the building early, (by the proper door, up the grand staircase) have a good look round, and all of them talked to him very kindly.  As I was explaining about the crush bar the nice barman said 'A glass of champagne sir?'  and poured him some fizzy water! Sweet.

We had a look at the amphi ( I explained it was my spiritual home but today we had a treat by being in the stalls..) , the Grand Tier, got lost on some staircases and sat on the terrace.

 

It was a dream come true for me that he enjoyed it all and loved the ballet. What a spectacular introduction to ballet it was- his face was lit up with delight and amazement by Gary Avis's cloak, the toys coming to life, the snow falling, the childrens' choir, the orchestra, the tree growing...and he was an instant convert to the amazing skills and charm of Marcelino Sambe who was in fantastic form again today- with a delightful Anna Rose O'Sullivan , and Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nunez glittering in elegant perfection a few feet away...wow.

It was so beautiful to see them all close up for once and to feel I could applaud them in a more 'personal' way.

 

Thanks RB,  thanks ROH for a memorably wonderful afternoon I won't ever forget  - and nor will a star-struck little boy.

 

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It was! Yes -  row A! Golly it was amazing! The amphi is going to seem a long way back next time..I shall have to look into that paper-round.

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6 hours ago, Lizbie1 said:

 my goodness, how wonderful is Sambe these days? I haven't seen a lot of him in the last year or two: we always knew his leaps and turns were really something, but everything else seems to have caught up: partnering, line, acting and the most generous and happy stage presence.  So great to see him really flourishing.

I was just thinking exactly the same-:  I remember thinking he had amazing jumps and presence but was sometimes a bit untidy- oh not any more.....he has come on by - er , leaps and bounds hasn't he- what a star he is now.

14 minutes ago, Balletfanp said:

I wish I’d known, I’d have said hello!

Balletfanp, thank you and retrospective 'Hello!' Hope you enjoyed the performance this afternoon.

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2 hours ago, Mary said:

I took my nephew to his first ballet- the Nutcracker matinee today. I have to say all the staff at ROH were fantastic- so welcoming and nice to him. It was good to be able to go in to the building early, (by the proper door, up the grand staircase) have a good look round, and all of them talked to him very kindly.  As I was explaining about the crush bar the nice barman said 'A glass of champagne sir?'  and poured him some fizzy water! Sweet.

We had a look at the amphi ( I explained it was my spiritual home but today we had a treat by being in the stalls..) , the Grand Tier, got lost on some staircases and sat on the terrace.

 

It was a dream come true for me that he enjoyed it all and loved the ballet. What a spectacular introduction to ballet it was- his face was lit up with delight and amazement by Gary Avis's cloak, the toys coming to life, the snow falling, the childrens' choir, the orchestra, the tree growing...and he was an instant convert to the amazing skills and charm of Marcelino Sambe who was in fantastic form again today- with a delightful Anna Rose O'Sullivan , and Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nunez glittering in elegant perfection a few feet away...wow.

It was so beautiful to see them all close up for once and to feel I could applaud them in a more 'personal' way.

 

Thanks RB,  thanks ROH for a memorably wonderful afternoon I won't ever forget  - and nor will a star-struck little boy.

 

 

Today felt like such a special performance: the last Saturday matinee before Christmas, so many children (and so well behaved!), and such a great cast. My niece danced her way out of the building - it was almost a shock to get outside and find it wasn't snowing!

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18 minutes ago, Mary said:

Balletfanp, thank you and retrospective 'Hello!' Hope you enjoyed the performance this afternoon.

 

I certainly did! A very special performance where everyone shone. So many children there enthralled by it - not a peep out of any of them, but then it is like walking into a fairytale. I found myself filling up on a few occasions - the combination of the music, the wonderful dancing and the sparkling sets. On the way back to Plymouth now feeling shattered, but buoyed up by this afternoon’s performance!

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I see the Royal Ballet have posted some prime excerpts from this year's live relay on YouTube. What a nice Christmas present!

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for posting it, @Lizbie1. I will go and find it after we have finished watching “The Muppets Christmas Carol”.

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May I ask whether the movement Nunez does at 5.29-5.31 (sorry, I don't know what it is called) has a particular meaning? I noticed it when watching Swan Lake last night and there the shaking of her leg seemed appropriate to represent Odette's agitation. However in the SPF's context it clearly can't mean that.

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23 minutes ago, Dawnstar said:

May I ask whether the movement Nunez does at 5.29-5.31 (sorry, I don't know what it is called) has a particular meaning? I noticed it when watching Swan Lake last night and there the shaking of her leg seemed appropriate to represent Odette's agitation. However in the SPF's context it clearly can't mean that.

 

You mean the petit battement serré I think - not sure if it has a meaning!

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Guys I saw the cinema relay. I usually treasure Royal Ballet cinema relays but I could find almost nothing positive to say about Sir Peter Wright's production, especially the way it's evolved since his first stab at the ballet so many years ago.

I understand the need to give dancers opportunities as Clara and the Prince but their constant intrusion into both the Snow Scene and the divertissements was annoying. I like to think of the Snow Scene and the divertissements as stand-alones and opportunities for the corps and lower-ranked soloists of the company to shine. 

And as someone who's watched the party scene evolve over the years, the Stahlbaum Christmas party has turned from a charming house party with a magician into something maybe only Buckingham Palace can afford? It seems like every year the costumes for the party become more lavish. 

As for the Cavalier and Sugarplum Fairy those powdered wigs have got to go! They made Vadim look like Joffrey from Game of Thrones and did the impossible which was make Marianela Nunez look distant and starchy. The warmest, most radiant dancer is swallowed by that huge powdered wig. 

The dancing was excellent on all levels however.

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On ‎22‎/‎12‎/‎2018 at 22:24, Balletfanp said:

 

I certainly did! A very special performance where everyone shone. So many children there enthralled by it - not a peep out of any of them, but then it is like walking into a fairytale. I found myself filling up on a few occasions - the combination of the music, the wonderful dancing and the sparkling sets. On the way back to Plymouth now feeling shattered, but buoyed up by this afternoon’s performance!

I took a 6 and 4 year old (my step grandchildren)  It was the 4 year old's first ever ballet and we were worried she was too young, but no, she behaved perfectly, as did her sister.  We did do a lot of prep beforehand explaining the story, the tree, the Sugar Plum fairy, Clara, Gary Avis's cloak and glitter etc etc. and they had taken it all in. The only wriggling in the seat was done because 4 year old wanted to see absolutely EVERYTHING on the stage. It was a totally magical experience. I cried 3 times through the sheer beauty and emotion - couldn't believe it...…..and this was a ballet I gave up on for some years because  I thought it was boring. 

 

As an aside, this ballet has a lot of very well known music, but my favourites are the tree transformation scene and the pdd between Clara and Hans- Peter. I've downloaded on my phone and have been playing ever since.

 

The dancing was sublime by all concerned. What better Christmas present could one have. .  

 

 

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1 hour ago, Ivy Lin said:

Guys I saw the cinema relay. I usually treasure Royal Ballet cinema relays but I could find almost nothing positive to say about Sir Peter Wright's production, especially the way it's evolved since his first stab at the ballet so many years ago.

 

It's often said that most people's favourite - even ideal - Nutcracker is generally the one they grew up with, even if the "growing up" was as an adult discovering ballet, and I've read very little from Nutcracker watchers to disprove that argument! For seasoned RB watchers, SPW's changes have indeed been a steady evolution, so are accepted and even forgotten; you could even say that the production has grown up with them.

 

I used to agree about Clara imposing herself on the 2nd act dances, but I think I've come round to it. As for the SPF costumes: I know what you mean, but IMO you can almost taste the sugar when you watch them dance in the theatre, which must have been the effect Julia Trevelyan Oman was aiming for. They work for me, anyway!

Edited by Lizbie1
added qualifier "generally" :)
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Having seen both the cinema relay (several years running) and live performances, I have to say that the SPF and the Prince costumes come over so much better on the live stage - they sparkle and really add to the magic. I would prefer a more natural look with a bit of sparkle, but one can see the point when one sees them “in the flesh,” so to speak.

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12 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

 

It's often said that most people's favourite - even ideal - Nutcracker is the one they grew up with, even if the "growing up" was as an adult discovering ballet, and I've read very little from Nutcracker watchers to disprove that argument! For seasoned RB watchers, SPW's changes have indeed been a steady evolution, so are accepted and even forgotten; you could even say that the production has grown up with them.

 

I used to agree about Clara imposing herself on the 2nd act dances, but I think I've come round to it. As for the SPF costumes: I know what you mean, but IMO you can almost taste the sugar when you watch them dance in the theatre, which must have been the effect Julia Trevelyan Oman was aiming for. They work for me, anyway!

I like Clara and Hans-Peter being included in the speciality dances. I was brought up on version where Clara was a girl from the ballet school whose only purpose was to watch the other dancers in Act 2. Now, it is a major role for a ballerina and provides great opportunities for these dancers to shine

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3 hours ago, JennyTaylor said:

As an aside, this ballet has a lot of very well known music, but my favourites are the tree transformation scene and the pdd between Clara and Hans- Peter. I've downloaded on my phone and have been playing ever since.

 

I've always said that the best music is in Act I: I'm always disappointed if a concert performance just sticks to the Suite, well-known as it is.

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11 hours ago, JennyTaylor said:

 

but my favourites are the tree transformation scene and the pdd between Clara and Hans- Peter. I've downloaded on my phone and have been playing ever since.

 

The dancing was sublime by all concerned. What better Christmas present could one have. .  

 

 

 

 

Agree about the music for the Clara/Nutcracker pas de deux in Act 1. From my very first Nutcracker, my father always used to whisper,"the good bit's coming up now". 

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10 minutes ago, capybara said:

 

 

Agree about the music for the Clara/Nutcracker pas de deux in Act 1. From my very first Nutcracker, my father always used to whisper,"the good bit's coming up now". 

This music chokes me up every time I hear it.  That and the SPF pdd music. 

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The grand pas absolutely chokes me up and usually I well up. I read somewhere it’s all to do with the unusual cello progression but who really knows!

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That is such a poignant bit of music.  Sometimes I think it is inappropriate for a pdd being danced by a sugar plum fairy and her prince in a cheery Christmas ballet, and instead should be incorporated into a piece featuring a pair of doomed lovers. 

 

  

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Absolutely- it would be ideal for that new  dance in Swan Lake we were just talking about..!

🙂

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Ivy Lin, I couldn't agree more. I "liked" your post, and, if the rules allowed it, I would have done so several times. I dislike this production intensely - such a waste of magnificent music and very talented dancers! It comes around , seemingly without fail,every year about now, and every year there are a few more tweaks to the production or choreography, and it remains a total waste of time and effort.

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