“The Nutcracker” at the Royal Albert Hall

06.02.2018

The Birmingham Royal Ballet brings Peter Wright’s production of this seasonal favorite to London.
ALESSANDRO BIZZOTTO reports

“The Nutcracker” is an eternal seasonal favorite. All our inner children are always happy to go to the ballet when Tchaikovsky’s classic is on stage. Those who had the chance to attend the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production on tour at the Royal Albert Hall in London, during the last Holiday Season, were probably even happier. A spectacular staging of Peter Wright’s production has been created for the Hall. Not easy to have a proper set in this glorious venue – but the venue itself, even with its curving seating pattern, is a very charming set for the story. It is intriguing to watch a ballet in a kind of different environment.


 

César Morales and Momoko Hirata © Annabel Moeller


The Royal Albert Hall's magnificent organ, then, towers over the orchestra, which is positioned on a balcony above the stage. The magic begins with Simon Callow as the voice of Drosselmeyer, Clara’s godfather. Excitement is in the air instantly. The production design is mostly replaced by two huge screens. The projections starts with the transformation scene (it would have been impossible to make the tree grow as it should, on this stage), and the effect is quite fascinating. The screens, which rise up either side of the organ, display the growing branches of the Christmas tree while giant baubles descend from the ceiling. Then projections overflow beautifully invading the whole backdrop. Their creator is the Tony Award-winning company of artists 59 Productions.
This whole new production is full of surprises. The lights are exceedingly effective as well as the snow that at some point starts falling on the audience too.

© Annabell Moeller
 

On the occasion of the opening night, First artist Karla Doorbar dances Clara, the young girl who lives the dream. She is girlish and giddy, and she looks with childish-like perspective at the magic of “The Nutcracker”. Two of the top names of the company, then, dances the Principal roles. César Morales is the prince, and he admirably displays his athletic force. He looks relaxed yet in total command of the technical difficulties, and he partners both Clara in act 1 and the Sugar Plum Fairy in act 2 with effortless elegance. Momoko Hirata embodies the Sugar Plum Fairy, and she is nothing but explosive – she dances with inner precision and amazing grace. Furthermore, she is a stunningly strong technician with fast, apparently effortless fouettés. Her virtuosity is just intoxicating. The formations of the snowflakes, then, are crystalline and the character dances are as tasty as cotton candy. Children in the audience are goggle-eyed. Adults, I guess, have even more fun.

 

           

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