Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Director: Victor Smirnov-Golovanov
Choreographers: Victor Smirnov-Golovanov, Lyudmila Nerubashenko
Conductor: Igor Shavruk
Reviewer: Gina Skillings
The Public Reviews Rating:
Founded by former Bolshoi Ballet soloist and choreographer Victor Smirnov-Golovanov, for the past 20 years Moscow City Ballet has been one of Russia’s most successful touring companies and is accompanied by a live orchestra.
In the first act we are transported to the Chritmas Eve party of the Silbergaus household’s children, Fritz and Clara. The Christmas tree lights twinkle and the children are playing, eagerly awaiting the gifts that will be handed out by Clara’s Godfather, Drosselmeyer. Not only does he bring the children a small gift each – he also produces three mechanical toys, a Doll, a Nutcracker and a Mouse King, which he brings magically to life. The Mouse King and Nutcracker fight for the right to dance with the Doll, and Fritz challenges the Nutcracker to a duel which to Clara’s dismay results in the Nutcracker being wounded. Later that night Clara wakes to find the Mouse King has returned, and he is not alone, in a panic Clara calls for her Godfather to help her. The Nutcracker is magically brought back to life again and calls upon his army to battle the mice, resulting in the Mouse Kings defeat. The Nutcracker is transformed into a prince and Clara into a Princess.
In the second Act Clara and the Nutcracker prince are taken to a Kingdom of flowers where the Mouse King once again returns and Drosselmeyer vies for Clara’s attention but she only has eyes for the Nutcracker prince. As dawn breaks, the kingdom of flowers fades and Clara finds herself back in the family living room with nothing but a basket of flowers and her small Nutcracker doll.
This was a truly magical performance by the Moscow City Ballet, Alevtina Lapshina was beautiful as Clara, every move seeming effortless. All the principle dancers were faultless, and as always Talgat Kozhabayev was fantastic as the Nutcracker prince. He never disappoints and his amazing grace and lightness of foot steals your attention in every scene he is in. A mention must also be made for Ekaterina Tokareva as the mechanical doll, she played the part fantastically.
The first act seemed a little frenzied in parts, possibly down to the sheer number of bodies trying to occupy quite a difficult stage, I would have preferred to see less of the ensemble playing the party guests and more of the mechanical dolls and principles, but the costumes, as always with MCB, were beautiful and the backdrop very well done. The second act was just spectacular from start to finish, although the story differed slightly from the more well known one, with sweeties and sugar plum fairy being substituted for the kingdom of flowers and the flower fairy, it all worked fantastically well and was a visual delight.
As I have noticed before at the Festival Theatre, the shape and size of the stage seems to slightly restrict the dancers somewhat, it appears they are holding back and stopping short on their jumps and there was the odd collision or two but they work marvelously well with what they have.
My only slight criticism of this performance is some of the male ensemble dancers don’t quite seem up to the standard of the female ones, but I would highly recommend this performance, to all – a fantastic introduction to Ballet and the music of Tchaikovsky.
Runs until the 8th January 2012
Moscow City Ballet : The Nutcracker - Festival Theatre, Chichester ,