Yet Another Nutcracker-Oh Why Not?!
K. Boullosa | 11/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with some of the assessments made by reviewer Ivy Lin, above, however, I disagree with others. This production of the beloved Christmas classic by the Royal Ballet does indeed incline more to the older Russian than the later Balanchine interpretation, which is more familiar to American audiences. I happen to prefer the former. I also agree with Ms. Lin that the dancing of Alina Cojocaru is one of the chief pleasures of this very traditional and pleasing production, which is everything a Nutcracker ought to be, including the obligatory boring turns by parental figures in Victorian clothes and tiresome little boys. Cojocaru is particularly gorgeous to watch once she takes off the little-girl dress and earmuff hair-do at the end of the first act, and gets to really, REALLY dance. Cojocaru's technique IS beautiful. Yes, she is all long ethereal limbs, big jumps, arched back, beautiful feet, and expressive hands. Curiously, and here is where I disagree with Ms. Lin, Cojocaru shares another trademark that sometimes accompanies all those wonderful characteristics of Russian-school training (Cojocaru is Romanian): a bit too much awareness of just how appealing those extravagant extensions, that back-arching, and those gamboling, coltish limbs are. In fact, all that coltish, ethereal, arched-back, long-limbed gamboling got to be a bit tiresome for me at some point, especially as Anthony Dowell, attuned no doubt to the wishes of his audience vis-a-vis his new star, allowed Peter Wright, the choerographer, to insert Cojocaru into every single place in the choreography that he possibly could, including places where Clara traditionally doesn't dance: the dance of the Snowflakes, the Chinese Dance, the Russian Dance, the Waltz of the Flowers, etc. I'm sure the soloists in those pieces were just THRILLED to find their brief moments in the spotlight dimmed by the omnipresence of Cojocaru, whether she belonged there or not. I found myself muttering, "Enough already!" There WERE other dancers worth watching on stage, notably the chief Rose Fairy, Zenaida Yanofsky, in Wright's verision of the Waltz of the Flowers. A tall, elegant dancer with beautiful legs, a huge jump, and outstanding technique, Yanofsky was a great pleasure to watch - I would have preferred to watch her go on dancing rather than to see her coyly bringing Cojocaru back to center stage. By the end of the Waltz of the Flowers, it was, in my opinion, rather a pleasure to turn from the adorable, ethereal,coltish, gamboling Cojocaru to the more regal dancing of Miyako Yoshida, the Sugar Plum Fairy. In response to Ms. Lin's criticisms, it certainly wasn't Ms. Yoshida's fault that the tall Darcey Bussell pulled out and the short Ms. Yoshida was called upon to substitute for her, and dance with the very tall Jonathan Cope. Both are compleat professionals: they did their jobs and did them well. Yoshida IS a bit too short for truly great line, but she nevertheless turned in a lovely performance, with beautiful phrasing, delicate, perfect footwork, and great security; her solo in the big pas de deux was faultless. For me, far from being a painful contrast to Cojocaru, Yoshida's more womanly presence was just as pleasurable to watch; there is room in the world for accomplished dancers who are not ethereal, long-limbed, back-arching, gamboling, coltish wonders (whose style would have been inappropriate as Sugar Plum Fairy, anyway). Ivan Putrov, the Nutcracker and Clara's dream prince, is worth st least as much attention as Cojocaru. He was wonderful: his technique blended power and elegance, with high jumps, crisp turns, and gorgeous legs. He was a sympathetic dramatic presence and a fine partner. As one expects from the Royal, all the set pieces were well-danced and expertly mimed. As for Anthony Dowell's cape-waving as Herr Drosselmeyer, really, it's "Nutcracker" and Drosselmeyer - what do you really expect in the way of character development?! The sets are beautiful, as are the costumes, the Christmas angels, the special effects, and all the soloists. This is just what a Nutcracker should be. I enjoyed it immensely and rewatch it at least twice each Christmas season."
A common man's point of view.
Richard Rawls | Dublin Ga USA | 01/30/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a wonderful classical version of The Nutcracker, with fabulous sets, costumes, color, and lighting. It is a Sir Peter Wright production, so it is authentic throughout, with the exception that there is no Mother Gigogne and her little clowns.
This is a good example of classical ballet as the originators saw it. Peter Wright usually sticks to tradition in his productions, and you won't see "gimmicks" used that distract from it's originality. It is a live stage production from the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, with an audience, but it is not a "noisy" stage, that is, you will hear the point shoes but they are not distracting. The British audiences are very restrained in their enthusiasm and do not interrupt the dances with applause.
Clara is danced by Alina Cojocaru, a perpetually young ballerina who is able to dance in the final act with her Nutcracker Prince, Ivan Petrov, and not just a spectator "guest" in the magic Kingdom of Sweets. The toymaker Drosselmeyer, is played by Anthony Dowell. The Sugar Plum Fairy is danced Meyako Yoshida, who is absolutely beautiful in her role. Her partner is Jonathan Cope, who partnered with Leanne Benjamin in the Royal Ballet production of The Firebird (another must have DVD)......Stravinsky - The Firebird & Les Noces / Royal Ballet.....Cope is very tall, and Yoshida is quite short, so, she is a diminutive little doll next to him. I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved her as the Sugar Plum Fairy.
As I said, the sets and costumes in this ballet are spectacular, the lighting perfect and the music magnificent. Need any more superlatives? The running time is 107 minutes, which is about right for a complete Nutcracker. There are about 25 minutes of bonus material, which is very informative, telling how they made the Christmas tree "grow", among other things happening "backstage". I believe you will enjoy this "classical" version of "The Nutcracker".........Richard."
EXCELLENT PRODUCTION OF CHRISTMAS, FANTASY CLASSIC
DEWEY MEE | ELLENSBURG, WA, | 01/08/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
The world's most famous (some might, rightfully, say overdone) Christmas ballet receives an opulent, excellent treatment from the Royal Ballet at London's Covent Garden; designed by Julia Trevelyan Oman and choreographed by Peter Wright.
Even if you have seen "The Nutcracker" for what seems like a millon Christmas Seasons in a row, there is no denying the powerful, endearing spell of Tchaivosky's immortal ballet score.
The plot is as familar as "The Wizard Of Oz." Hans-Peter has been transformed into a Nutcracker. His mysterious and magical Uncle Drosslmeyer (Sir Anthony Dowell) hopes that his god-daughter Clara can break the curse. During a midnight Christmas Eve Battle, Clara saves the Nutcracker from the Mouse King. Transformed into a human male once again, Hans-Peter transports Clara to the Kingdom OF Sweets; where they perform a series of celebratory dances with the Sugar-Plum Fairy, her Prince, and several other fantasy characters.
Several productions have emphasized a dark and disturbing "connection/relationship" between Clara and Drosslmeyer. In this production, there is (thankfully) an emphasis on fantasy and magic. Alina Cojocaru is perfectly cast as a beguiled and beguiling Clara. Ivan Putrov is a strikingly handsome Hans-Peter/Nutcracker Prince. This is a definitive production that belongs in every Christmas DVD library.