music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
London Coliseum St. Martin’s Lane WC2N 4ES in rep to 5 January 2013.
Runs 2hr 10min One interval.
TICKETS: 0871 911 0200.
Review: Carole Woddis 20 December.
Musical, scenic – and choreographic – splendour.
The ballet world was rocked earlier in 2012 when Wayne Eagling, former Royal Ballet principal and ENB artistic director announced his resignation following the controversial fly-on-the-wall TV documentary ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy: a year with the English National Ballet’.
This Nutcracker is one of his legacies at ENB, and two years on from its first production looks simply stunning visiting English National Opera’s spacious home at the Coliseum. It also shows exactly why it is that, despite the brickbats and the reactionary values that still underpin ballet, its appeal remains undimmed. Eagling’s production carries charm, exuberance and beauty.
In traditional mould, Ealing has introduced a few nods to today in his storytelling while remaining true to its original concept. Then there is Tchaikovsky’s music. If without some of the grandeur of his other great ballets, The Nutcracker is poignant and beguiling when it comes to its familiar ensembles and pas de deux set pieces.
It is of course, the Christmas favourite. With Clara, the little girl on the brink of becoming an adult as its central character, a magician who appears to be able to work miracles (here conceived by Eagling, unlike Nureyev’s version, as wholly benign), animal baddies and a toy, the Nutcracker, who evolves into a handsome prince, plus exotic divertissements and a corps de ballet of snowflakes, it really has the lot.
Eagling, and designer Peter Farmer have given it a sumptuous look with high-ceilinged ballrooms, a grand house backdrop, a clever trompe d’oeil skating scene, not to mention a toy castle and drawbridge, a huge, sprouting Christmas tree and even a hot air balloon.
ENB has produced no less than ten versions since its inception in 1950. It would be hard to think there has been one that is more handsome to look at or danced with more élan and collective artistry than this. Eagling’s choreography, too, amounts to a nice blend of the predictable yet eye-catching.
In all, ENB despite onerous touring duties and funding cuts, led by another former Royal Ballet principal – Tamara Rojo – the company looks in great shape. A real treat.
Cast for 20 Dec 20 performance:
Clara: Tamara Rojo.
Prince: Esteban Berlanga.
Nutcracker: Max Westwell.
Drosselmeyer: James Streeter.
Choreographer: Wayne Eagling based on Toer van Schayk and Wayne Eagling.
Designer: Peter Farmer.
Lighting: David Richardson.