Theatre Royal Windsor
Reviewed – 12th November 2019
“A scintillating production which is absolutely spot on. A perfect tonic for grey winter days and an excellent introduction to classical ballet”
There could be no more perfect ballet for the beginning of the Christmas season than the eternally popular Nutcracker, first performed in 1892 with a sparkling score by Tchaikovsky. This week Windsor Theatre Royal has a brief residency by the Vienna Festival Ballet, which is touring the production extensively until the middle of December.
The company was founded in Brighton in 1980. Its artistic director Peter Mallek named it after his home town where he danced leading roles with the State Opera. The company receives no subsidy and specialises in touring the grand classical works, amongst them Swan Lake, Cinderella and Snow White. Forget Matthew Bourne and expect pointe shoes, pirouettes and arabesques and grands jetés. The costumes are sumptuous and include designs by Vonnie Meyrick-Brook (Harry Potter and Skyfall). The choreography is the company’s own, in a revision by Emily Hufton of a version from 1981 by Uruguayan Ruben Echeverria who studied with the Bolshoi.
The ballet begins with a child’s Christmas party at which Anna is presented with a nutcracker doll by her mysterious uncle Drosselmeyer (performed by the impressive Dario Sanz Yagüe). At midnight the toy is transformed into a dashing prince who leads her on a series of entrancing adventures, culminating in a breathtaking sequence of dramatic set pieces at which she meets a series of visitors from all corners of the globe.
Tchaikovsky’s romantic music is here presented in a recording. The composer, who struggled to like the ballet, extracted a very popular orchestral suite from the ballet score. It contains a handful of lush and instantly recognisable tunes, by no means least amongst them The Dance of the Reed Pipes, once used by Cadbury to sell its fruit and nut chocolate.
A young and energetic company drawn from around the world perform magnificently in a scintillating production which is absolutely spot on. A perfect tonic for grey winter days and an excellent introduction to classical ballet.
Reviewed by David Woodward
Theatre Royal Windsor until 16th November then UK tour continues
Previously reviewed at this venue: