Because I am clearly a little obsessed, I saw Royal Opera House’s ‘The Nutcracker’ twice this year, once in early December and again in January:
(Trailer from 2012)
I should probably pre-empt this by saying that I adore this ballet, I see it every year and it will always, without fail, make me happy! That said, maybe I should actually talk about the performances (only a month late doing this)!
I had booked for Steven McRae and Roberta Marquez in December, and then Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg in January, but Kobborg being out with an injury, meant I saw McRae twice instead, not that I was complaining.
In December there was Gary Avis, always a marvellous Drosselmeyer, performing his magic tricks with panache, Ricardo Cervera as a solid Nutcracker, his mime in Act II was especially coherent and he led his army excellently, and a special mention for the hilarious Kristen McNally and Alastair Marriott as the grandparents. I had a couple of issues with Meaghan Grace Hinkis as Clara though, she was technically good, but didn’t seem to suit the part that well. There are times when Clara is not dancing, but is on stage, and she managed to look slightly awkward and lacking in something to do, so that she rather stuck out and took away from those that were dancing.
Image found here. Snowflakes in The Nutcracker. Photo: Johan Persson / ROH ©
The snowflakes were charming as always (spotted Leanne Cope and Olivia Cowley in there) and all of the Divertissements were marvellously danced. Special mention to an excellent Melissa Hamilton in the Arabian Dance and the lively Trepak. Normally these are one of my favourite parts of the ballet, but I was really blown away by Laura Morera’s effortlessly beautiful Rose Fairy. She was charming and so incredibly light on her feet, I wouldn’t be surprised if the woman could actually levitate!
Finally we come to McRae and Marquez, they were a lovely paring, fun, attentive and precise, she was delightful to watch and McRae is just bloody spectacular, his jumps defy gravity, and he just does everything with such confidence and style, that it makes you want to high five him at the end…or is that just me?
Image found here. Steven McRae as The Prince in The Nutcracker. Photo: Johan Persson / ROH ©
The January cast delivered just as much, if not more! Christopher Saunders was Drosselmeyer this time around, and was a bit darker, more sinister, though props to him for an awesome Moonwalk during the curtain calls! Emma Maguire was a delightful Clara, full of wonder at all that happened and very well partnered by the fabulous Alexander Campbell. The Harlequin/Columbine and Soldier/Vivandiere, danced respectively by Dyer/Westcome and Zucchetti/Kaneko was lovely, and while we’re on the subject, can I please request this sort of entertainment at the next Christmas party I go to?
Again, the snowflakes were marvellous, if only the actual snow that followed a day or so later had been as musical and coordinated as these lot. Melissa Hamilton continued to exemplify poise in the Arabian Dance (and I might have spent quite some time looking jealously at her insanely muscular and flexible body), and Yuhui Choe’s Rose Fairy was also well danced.
Alina Cojocaru is absolutely one of my favourite dancers, every time I see her, I’m just blown away by how good she is. This was no exception, and I find her and McRae to be a really fun pairing, so though it was a disappointment not to see Kobborg, I was hardly complaining about his replacement. Have I already mentioned that McRae is just awesome?
I should probably wrap this up before it becomes too rambling and nonsensical. Suffice to say, I loved both performances and I love this ballet.
Image found here. Clara and Drosselmeyer in The Royal Ballet’s Nutcracker. Photo: Dee Conway / ROH ©