The Nutcracker with Nuñez and Soares, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, December 2012.Posted on 11 December 2012
At the start of this Peter Wright production, we see Drosselmeyer in his workshop comparing his toy Nutcracker with a portrait on the wall of his lost nephew. Then at the very end, where some productions show Clara being put to bed by her mother, the Nutcracker prince finds his Uncle Drosselmeyer and they embrace. It’s a nice touch, and in the meantime we are treated to a glorious stage spectacle that reflects E.T.A. Hoffmann’s mixture of the real and imaginary worlds by having Clara and her beloved Nutcracker join in some of the Act II dances.
In the December 10 performance, Emma Maguire was a magical Clara, dancing with the girls at the party as an equal, and joining in the character dances of Act II to perfection. She inspired the whole performance, precise in her movements, wonderfully musical, and full of a sense of wonder.
In Act I at the Stahlbaum’s house there was an air of spontaneity underlying everything including the adult dances, and Gary Avis as the father exerted quiet authority while allowing Lovely performances with Christopher Saunders an admirable Drosselmeyer in his light blue cloak, Valentino Zucchetti sparkling as his assistant, and Kenta Kura and Akane Takada dancing an excellent vignette as the soldier and his lady. Ryoichi Hirano was a powerful Mouse King, bravely hit twice by Clara with her slipper, and when the Nutcracker recovers, Koen Kessels in the orchestra pit allowed the music to swell forth with emotion and then really let it rip, giving huge force to Alexander Campbell’s spectacular coupé-jetés round the stage.
Campbell was a fine Nutcracker, miming the battle beautifully when they arrive in the Kingdom of Sweets, and as he and Clara join in some of the character dances they inspired them with joy. Maguire as Clara was a lovely addition to the Spanish dance, great fun with the four men in the Chinese dance, and a perfect mirliton with the four others. Campbell too was a strong addition to the Russian dance and the Waltz of the Flowers. As the Rose Fairy, Yuhui Choe was brilliantly on the music, but more rehearsal was needed for the four leading flowers and particularly their cavaliers, fine dancers though they be.
In the final pas-de-deux between the Sugar Plum Fairy and her cavalier, Marianela Nuñez showed a lovely line in her slow poses with Thiago Soares, and as things warmed up, the conductor moved the orchestra into top gear. Soares suddenly dropped out for some reason, but Dawid Trzensimiech, who was dancing one of the four cavaliers in the waltz of the flowers, seamlessly stepped in and completed the role.
Koen Kessels gave a top quality performance with the orchestra, and although performances continue until January 16 they are sold out, so call up for returns, and for details click here. Also see the live cinema relay on Thursday, December 13.