Last Updated on November 26, 2021
Christmas must be here – the first Nutcracker has appeared!
The Nutcracker has become an annual Christmas ritual for me. Last year I was lucky enough to catch the COVID safe restaging at the Royal Opera House – I believe the Royal Ballet only managed four performances before another lockdown meant that the Royal Opera House closed prematurely for the rest of the season. This year, they are back with a full staging and the first night on 23rd November is also part of a week of celebrations to commemorate Peter Wright’s 95th Birthday on 25th November. Tonight’s performance included Gary Avis as Herr Drosselmeyer, sprinkling gold dust everywhere and leading his Clara (Anna Rose O’Sullivan) with Joseph Sissens replacing James Hay as The Nutcracker, a little cautiously at first but with increasing confidence as the night went on.
The Sugar Plum Fairy in the form of Marianela Nuñez was poised and graceful while her Prince (Vadim Muntagirov) was deliciously light on his feet in his solos and a stunning partner in the pas de deux.
It is the start of Christmas isn’t it? What other show has a magic growing Christmas tree, dancing snowflakes, Harlequin and Columbine and Arabian, Chines and Russian Dancers all on stage in one night? Not to mention toy soldiers and dancing rats. The Nutcracker has so many set dances which thrill in their own right and so many fairy story moments including Clara defeating the Rat King with the heel of her shoe. And, underneath it all, a love story based on ‘The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E. T. A. Hoffmann. The Nutcracker turns out to be Herr Drosselmeyer’s Nephew who is saved from a curse that turned him to wood. That of course, happens because of Clara’s love for him.
This work was created for the Royal Ballet by Peter Wright in 1984 and includes much-loved elements like the magical growing Christmas tree, the beautiful and enchanting dance of the snowflakes and more.
It’s a score by Tchaikovsky that many of us will be very familiar with and the production by The Royal Ballet is a real classic. This year the production features Will Tuckett’s battle scene, which we saw premiered in 2020 and was specially created to reduce the number of children on stage during the pandemic. Although some of the children are back for the opening party grownups still replace them in the fight between the mice and the toy soldiers. Throughout, despite the evolution of the choreography from Peter Wright’s initial staging, the ballet remains true to the spirit of the Russian ballet classic and a great showcase for the Company
Later audiences will see debut performances from Principal dancers Mayara Magri (21 December) and Anna Rose O’Sullivan (24 December) as The Sugar Plum Fairy, with Cesar Corrales (6 December) and Marcelino Sambé (24 December) as The Prince. Natalia Osipova and Reece Clarke who stunned on the opening night of Giselle take on the role of Sugar Plum Fairy and Prince. And, throughout the season students from The Royal Ballet Upper School perform alongside the Company. This is a production where everyone changes roles from day to day and it’s easy to want to come back and see another cast!
On 9 December, audiences around the world will be able to experience The Nutcracker in a live cinema relay – featuring performances from Akane Takada and Cesar Corrales. Encore screenings will follow in cinemas across the globe on 12 December.
The 2021 performance schedule also includes dedicated performances for those who have not experienced ballet or opera at the Royal Opera House before. This year, The Royal Opera House is showing their thanks for the incredible work done by NHS staff through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond by welcoming key workers to the building for the 2021 Paul Hamlyn Christmas Treat: a morning of interactive workshops and creative activities, followed by a gala performance of The Nutcracker.
23 November 2021 – 8 January 2022
Live Cinema Broadcast 9 December; Encore Cinema Broadcast 12 December
23, 29 November at 7:30pm
25 November at 2pm and 7:30pm
4 December at 7pm
6, 7, 9, 10, 13, 16, 21, 23, 29, 30 December at 7:30pm
10, 21 December at 2pm
18 December at 1:30pm and 7pm
22, 24 December at 12:30pm
31 December at 4pm
3 January at 1:30pm and 7pm
5, 6, 7 January at 7:30 PM
8 January at 1pm and 6:30pm
Tickets £7 – £135
Booking – www.roh.org.uk
Royal Opera House
Bow Street, London, WC2E 9DD