I've never been to the ballet, so I'm going all-in - to the Royal Ballet Nutcracker

Herr Drosselmeyer (Gary Avis) (Tristram Kenton)

As the dark winter nights truly draw in, there’s no better way to illuminate them than with spotlights and theatrical magic. And what production has more of that than Tchaikovsky’s lush ballet The Nutcracker? It’s the ultimate way to lift your Christmas spirits – so this year, I resolved to finally, for the first time, get myself to the sold-out opening night of Peter Wright’s lavish production at the Royal Opera House.

How have I gone nearly 23 years without ever visiting the ballet in person? Perhaps I thought watching Barbie in the Nutcracker as a child was as much of the classic as I needed to know. Or maybe I feared disappointment because I didn’t trust all the five-star reviews. But really there’s no good excuse.

The tale, based on a story by E.T.A Hoffmann, follows a young girl, Clara (danced on opening night by Anna Rose O’Sullivan), on Christmas Eve receiving gifts from toymaker Herr Drosselmeyer (Gary Avis), who uses magic to weave the girl a festive adventure once her family has gone to bed, in the company of a handsome Nutcracker (Joseph Sissens).

The sound of harmonic strings rises from the orchestral pit below us. Following the excited tutu-clad children running to peek over the balcony into the orchestra pit, I catch a smile from the harpist (remember her later). There are plenty of children as expected – both students from the Royal Ballet school onstage and those in the audience, enraptured by Clara’s flitting, fleeting steps. The anticipation is palpable as families filling the red velvet seats of the auditorium wait for the moment the toymaker appears.

Syraat’s first Royal Opera House selfie (Syraat Al Mustaqeem)

Now, I’m the type of person who likes to do her research but I also want to maintain an authentic first-time experience, so speaking with Rachel Hollings, the Opera House’s artistic administrator, before the show, we skip over the spoilers. I do ask her what to wear though, and she tells me that “sequins are optional”.

Reminiscing about her early visits to the ballet, Hollings tells me, “It’s a powerful, even spiritual experience – a communion of sorts between audience and performer. I loved to listen to the music at home first which enhanced the live experience. When I went to the theatre for the first time, my mother said I cried and couldn’t be taken away.”

The moment as the curtains part is exhilarating and impossible to take in all at once. I’m distracted by details – Wright’s production is famously lavish – so once my eyes refocus on the action the entire stage has shifted. The dancers playing the toys move between stiffness and fluidity, miming animated emotions. As some of them end their moments in the spotlight with their chests rising and falling, I am reminded that they are in fact athletes. The hours of practice are evident in effortlessness of the sequences but occasionally I’m worried the dancers might miss their steps. Astonishingly they don’t.

I have little time, however, to think of the sport – I’m utterly absorbed, my eyes chasing Clara as she navigates her fantasy. From Drosselmeyer’s sweeping cape to the frills on Clara’s sleeves that settle in slow-motion, I’m obsessed with the costumes. Every time I spot his cloak I feel as if the toymaker is personally narrating his story to me.

The corps de ballet (Tristram Kenton)

And the Christmas tree transformation cannot be ignored. As Clara slips into her dream (or is it?) the tree miraculously grows at the back of the vast stage as she runs to the front, a tiny figure against the impressive evergreen inviting us into the world of toys and setting the stage for the celebrated battle between the toy soldiers, the Nutcracker and Clara with the Mouse King and his men, their beady mouse eyes flashing red, before Clara saves the Nutcracker’s life by walloping the Mouse King with her slipper – and releasing the toymaker’s nephew Hans Peter from his enchantment inside the Nutcracker.

Suddenly Hans Peter and Clara are left alone. By the time the single teal curtain falls to set the scene for their moment I am rooting for them to fall in love.

The stage, now a glittery, icy spectacle in Act 2, is set for a show within a show. A young girl behind me whispers to her grandfather, “What’s happening now?” and I want to explain that the toys have come back to life so she can share my excitement. With the percussion section showcasing flamenco, Arabian beats and Russian influence, this half is even more thrilling than the first.

The moment I am on the lookout for is the pas de deux between the Sugar Plum Fairy (Marianela Nuñez) and her prince (Vadim Muntagirov) – and he truly is hers. The dance duet, however brilliant at showing the romance between the two, is really all about the Sugar Plum Fairy. Tchaikovsky’s musical refrain (the harpist returns!) for the pas de deux, written for his late sister, rises and falls with every lift and step. Nuñez’s solo is mesmerising and as I recognise this much-repeated melody I suddenly resent every movie soundtrack and Christmas advert that has used it – it belongs to this charming pair alone.

Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez (Alastair Muir)

Eventually, Clara’s reverie comes to an end and the audience is left wondering if the entire affair was a dream – until Hans Peter arrives at her doorstep, a young red-clad soldier asking for directions to his Uncle’s house. There is a moment of recognition before the pair go their separate ways. The true reunion follows when Hans Peter returns to his Herr Drosselmeyer’s home and the night ends – too soon for my liking.

As I contemplate buying tickets to another showing of the production Hollings encourages my return. I expect to see many returning audience members too, as the ever-changing cast take their opportunity to play the iconic characters. No performance will be the same.

There’s no doubt I’ll be back, but I just hope my second time will be as magical as my first. Though I’ve never seen myself as a person who attends the ballet, I realise that part of Clara’s fantasy is about transformation and being lost in the excitement – which you don’t know until you go.

The Nutcracker is at the Royal Opera House until January 8, roh.org.uk

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Human skeleton found inside of tent in Central Park

The human remains found in Central Park were in a “highly decomposed state,” according to a medical examiner. Christopher Sadowski A human skeleton was found inside Central Park Friday afternoon, ... Read more »

8 married showbiz couples who fell in love on the set

© Provided by PEP.ph It is not new for celebrities who are paired with each other to fall in love and bring their on-screen romance to real life. After all, ... Read more »

What the papers say – January 29

© Peter Byrne What the papers say – January 29 (PA). The front pages on Saturday revolve around the impending release of Sue Gray’s report into partygate as frustration mounts ... Read more »

Food Trucks von ARI Motors: Die "Haße" kommt elektrisch

Der variable Elektrotransporter soll eine Alternative zur bekannten Piaggio Ape sein. © Ari Motors ARI Motors erweitert sein Angebot an elektrisch angetriebenen Nutzfahrzeugen um zwei Gastro-Mobile: das Lastentrike ARI 345 ... Read more »

Die umweltfreundlichsten Autos im ADAC-Ecotest: Das Ergebnis überrascht

112 Autos hat der ADAC 2021 getestet und dabei auch ihre CO₂- und Schadstoffemissionen unter die Lupe genommen. © Seat Wenn es um umweltfreundliche Autos geht, würde man wohl annehmen, ... Read more »

Peru bans Repsol director from leaving country after oil spill

© Provided by DW Peru declared an environmental emergency and said 21 of its beaches had been contaminated A Peruvian judge on Friday banned Repsol’s Peru director and three other ... Read more »

China reports 36 new COVID-19 cases among Olympics-related personnel

© Reuters/TYRONE SIU Preparation for Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics BEIJING (Reuters) – A total of 36 new COVID-19 infected were detected among Olympic Games-related personnel on Jan 28, the organising ... Read more »

Alleged Maduro co-conspirator says CIA knew about coup plans

© Provided by Associated Press FILE – This image provided by the U.S. Department of Justice shows a reward poster for Cliver Alcala-Cordones that was released on March 26, 2020. ... Read more »

Joni Mitchell said she is joining Neil Young and removing her music from Spotify over 'lies that are costing people their lives'

© Lester Cohen/WireImage/Getty Images Joni Mitchel attends the Jazz Foundation honors Joni Mitchell And Wayne Shorter at Vibrato on November 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Lester Cohen/WireImage/Getty Images Joni ... Read more »

FAM ambil serius pandangan Tunku Ismail

© Provided by Sinar Harian PERSATUAN Bola Sepak Malaysia (FAM) akan meneliti pandangan pemilik Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT), Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim atas kegagalan skuad Harimau Malaya pada saingan Piala ... Read more »

Heart Evangelista Looked Just Like Cinderella in a Dreamy Couture Gown at Paris Fashion Week

© Provided by Preview.ph Heart Evangelista‘s Paris Fashion Week lookbook has been absolutely phenomenal so far. Though her signature jet black tresses are gone, her resplendent, eclectic sense of style ... Read more »

10 Great Tablets You Can Get for Less Than P30,000

© Provided by Spot.ph PHOTO BY Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi ILLUSTRATION War Espejo © Provided by Spot.ph PHOTO BY Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi ILLUSTRATION War Espejo (SPOT.ph) In the age of remote ... Read more »

Pratik Sehajpal, Shamita Shetty or Karan Kundrra: Ex-contestants pick their Bigg Boss 15 winner

© Provided by The Indian Express After four long months of controversies and conspiracies, love stories and ugly fights, Bigg Boss 15 is all set to crown its next winner. ... Read more »

The 3 things you should always take on flights, according to doctors

THERE are a host of 'travel essentials' available to buy – with lotions, potions and products that promise to make your trip more enjoyable. But it can be difficult to ... Read more »

Raj Kapoor's Sangam is a lesson in how to bully a woman into marrying a stalker

When Raj Kapoor established RK Films at the age of 24, he was considered a trailblazer. Throughout the 1950s, one film after another, RK Films churned out movies that were ... Read more »

Titser sa Lanao Del Norte, nagkakaloob ng laptop sa mahihirap at deserving students

© Provided by PEP.ph Naging viral ang estudyanteng si Chrisken Sumili, 22, noong July 2021, matapos mag-circulate sa social media ang kanyang mga larawan habang mangiyak-ngiyak na hawak ang isang ... Read more »

Easing of travel rules seen to sustain growth

PRESIDENTIAL Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion 3rd said on Friday the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to relax international ... Read more »

Marcos Jr camp on Pacquiao corruption claim: Better left ignored

Bongbong Marcos Manny Pacquiao The camp of presidential aspirant and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr on Saturday refused to address directly the corruption claim raised by presidential aspirant and ... Read more »

Invasion of Ukraine would be 'horrific', US warns

© Reuters General Mark Milley said a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be “horrific” Top US General Mark Milley has said that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be “horrific” ... Read more »

Best Nature for Teddiursa, Ursaring and Ursaluna in Pokémon Legends: Arceus

© Provided by GamePur Teddiursa, Ursaring, and Ursaluna are semi-early game bear Pokémon. The earliest time you can located one of these is in a Space-Time Rift in the Obsidian ... Read more »

How to find space-time distortions in Pokémon Legends: Arceus

© Provided by GamePur The space-time distortions in Pokémon Legends: Arceus give you a chance to find rare Pokémon in a specific location. The Pokémon that appear inside these massive ... Read more »

Best Nature for Kricketot and Kricketune in Pokémon Legends: Arceus

© Provided by GamePur Kricketot and Kricketune are early-game Bug Pokémon, located sporadically throughout the Obsidian Fieldlands. They can be hard to located, due to their small size, but enough ... Read more »

Wayne Stenehjem, North Dakota's longest-serving attorney general, dies

Wayne Stenehjem, North Dakota’s longest-serving attorney general, has died “unexpectedly” at age 68, according to a news release from the Attorney General’s Office. © Tom Stromme/AP In this July 18, ... Read more »

Rangers blow another lead, fall to Wild to spoil Henrik Lundqvist celebration

The Rangers’ season has suddenly been inverted. They have traded in their sluggish starts and gallant finishes for fiery opening plays and a weak endgame. Friday, for the second time ... Read more »

Pending payments, lockdowns wreaking havoc on businesses, economy: Kashmir Chamber

The business community in Kashmir has urged the J&K administration to pay the overdue payments of the businessmen and entrepreneurs pending for over four years now and rethink the recent ... Read more »

Rebel Wilson, 41, shows off slender legs in skintight vinyl pants

Rebel Wilson indulged in a bit of retail therapy on Friday afternoon as she browsed shops in West Hollywood. The Bridesmaids actress, who recently returned from a family vacation to Fiji, ... Read more »

Mandaviya to hold review meet today with 5 states over COVID-19 situation

© Provided by The Statesman Mandaviya to hold review meet today with 5 states over COVID-19 situation Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will virtually review the COVID-19 situation, public health ... Read more »

NCR COVID-19 reproduction number decreased to 0.50 —OCTA

Metro Manila The COVID-19 reproduction number in the National Capital Region has gone down to 0.50, the OCTA Research group said on Saturday. The reproduction rate, which refers to the ... Read more »

Budget 2022: Does public opinion matter?

© Moneycontrol Budget 2022: Does public opinion matter? The Union Budget is for the people, but just where are they? Check out the Open Forum Inviting Ideas and Suggestions for Union ... Read more »

'God is Everywhere, Does Not Need Specific Land': Madras HC Refuses to Stay Removal of Temple

© Provided by News18 ‘God is Everywhere, Does Not Need Specific Land’: Madras HC Refuses to Stay Removal of Temple Refusing to postpone the removal of a temple on public ... Read more »

IMD weather update: Cold wave conditions in North India, wet spells - Check out region-wise forecast

© Provided by DNA Cold wave and cold day conditions over northwest and central India are very likely to abate gradually after Saturday (January 29) while there would be a ... Read more »

FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers: Peru stun goal-shy Colombia, Venezuelan Rondon's treble sinks Bolivia

© Provided by Firstpost FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers: Peru stun goal-shy Colombia, Venezuelan Rondon’s treble sinks Bolivia Second half substitute Edison Flores gave Peru a smash and grab 1-0 ... Read more »

From tax structure rationalisation to expanding EV charging infrastructure, here's what the industry wants from Budget 2022

© Ather / Revolt / Ola From tax structure rationalisation to expanding EV charging infrastructure, here’s what the industry wants from Budget 2022 The nascent EV industry in India has ... Read more »

Bank of India Net Banking, Mobile Banking Services Down after System Update. Know More

© Provided by News18 Bank of India Net Banking, Mobile Banking Services Down after System Update. Know More Following several complaints over four days, public sector lender Bank of India has ... Read more »

Budget 2022 | In Graphic Detail: It is time jobs become the centre of Budget

© PTI Budget 2022 | In Graphic Detail: It is time jobs become the centre of Budget The recent clashes surrounding the recruitment process of Indian Railways paints a dire ... Read more »

Budget 2021: Key Policies To Know Before Upcoming Budget Session

© Moneycontrol Budget 2021: Key Policies To Know Before Upcoming Budget Session The Union Budget 2021 was presented in the Parliament by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1, 2021. ... Read more »

Blogger Joins Activists Living In Exile Who Faced Murder Plots For Criticising Pakistan

© Provided by News18 Blogger Joins Activists Living In Exile Who Faced Murder Plots For Criticising Pakistan Ahmad Waqass Goraya, a Pakistani blogger living in exile, earlier this week claimed ... Read more »

Breathing Control, Spirituality Helped Padma Shri Brahmanand Sankhwalkar Sharpen Focus

© Provided by News18 Brahmanand Sankhwalkar, 67, joined a handful of footballers to be honoured with the Padma Shri award. India goalkeeper, later national team captain, India goalkeeping coach and ... Read more »

Asian Cup: AFC denies India coach Dennerby's claims

© Provided by The Times of India …But steers clear of controversies with focus on hosting rest of the women’s tournament safely What really hurts a lot is that AFC ... Read more »

US cancels $130m military aid for Egypt over rights concerns

© Provided by Al Jazeera Secretary of State Antony Blinken in September approved the release of $300m in foreign military financing to Egypt but withheld another $130m unless the government ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic