Here is a classic performance of the Nutcracker ballet.
It has been released in time for Christmas, so if you cannot visit one
of the many venues putting on this ballet as a Christmas treat, you can,
for a price not that much different from a ticket, obtain this DVD. This
is a recording of a classic performance of Tchaikovsky’s ever popular
ballet and of course it can be watched and enjoyed over and over again
with no deterioration in either sound or vision.
The recording dates from 1985, and is very much in
a traditional vein, thank God. There are no scrapyards here, nor any
plain, paint splattered sets to destroy the image of the fairy tale;
just the interior of a drawing room, complete with Christmas tree and
The choreography is based upon the original Petipa
version, and so there are the long familiar set pieces, given in a traditional
style which if you like this type of production will please you greatly.
The principal dancers are the well known Covent Garden
favourites, and apart from a slightly wooden appearance of facial expressions
on the principals, together with some over-emphasised movements, this
side of things cannot be faulted.
The musical performance is also first rate, although
those viewers who remember Gennadi Rozhdestvensky’s performance of the
ballet, released here on Melodiya with Bolshoi forces, and more recently
on an RCA "Twofer", will notice that the voltage is much lower
in London. This is due no doubt to the British orchestra (before the
time of Haitink), and the presence of the dancers, whose needs tend
to reduce the adrenaline levels significantly.
The sets are Covent Garden ‘standard issue’, which
means very good, with the magic Christmas tree enlarging very convincingly,
with the rest of the set, as the witching hour arrives.
The interpretation of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s original story
by Tchaikovsky has given us an enchanting ballet which is now a favourite
with audiences world-wide, and the Royal Ballet has made it one of its
specialities, loved by its audiences, year after year. The favourite
characters are here with Michael Coleman playing the part of Herr Drosselmeyer
introducing us to the Clara danced by Julie Rose. She takes the part
of the young girl, and very convincing she is in her portrayal of Clara.
She is supported by the rest of her family, celebrating the Christmas
Eve jollifications, all of which are done with conviction, and which
are supported by the sets and scenery making a very convincing scene.
Once the story gets well under way, we have Guy Niblett
dancing the part of the Nutcracker and Jonathan Cope as the Mouse King.
As midnight passes there are appearances from Lesley Collier as the
Sugar Plum Fairy and Anthony Dowell as the Prince. These two carry much
of the action through Act II, supported by the Company through the Characteristic
Dances and set-pieces.
Sound quality is good, but not outstanding, as is the
video quality, both reflecting the age of the production. There is an
up side to this, we have a production of the traditional type which
will make the Christmas celebrations more meaningful. Excellent value,
and well worth experiencing.