ENB’s Nutcracker Returns and Magic is Pretty Much Assured

15/12/2018

United KingdomUnited Kingdom English National Ballet’s Nutcracker: Dancers of English National Ballet, Students from Tring Park School and the English Ballet School, English National Ballet Philharmonic / Gavin Sutherland (conductor), London Coliseum, 13.12.2018. (JO’D)

English National Ballet’s Nutcracker (c) Laurent Liotardo

Production:

Choreography – Wayne Eagling
Music – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Design – Peter Farmer
Lighting – David Richardson

Cast included:

Clara – Rina Kanehara
Nephew – Jeffrey Cirio
Nutcracker – Fernando Carratalá Coloma
Drosselmeyer – Fabian Reimair
Mouse King – James Streeter

Everything was in place for English National Ballet’s Nutcracker to work the particular magic it has worked since this production premiered in 2010: the subdued colours of the drop curtain; the opening notes of the score; the hairbrush catching in Clara’s hair as the maid brushes it before the party, an indication (expressed in Tchaikovsky’s music almost from the start) that life will have its darker, painful, Mouse King side. Yet from the party in Act I to the divertissements in Act II, the dancers on this opening night suffered moments of unsteadiness and uncertainty that drew attention to flaws in the choreography and temporarily marred the magical effect.

Not all the dancers. Fernando Carratalá Coloma made a rather fine Nutcracker. Tall, long-limbed, flexible at the waist, he showed, in his jeté, what dance critic and poet Edwin Denby describes as a ‘shining tautness across the groin’. His stage presence has developed since he danced the Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty last June. While some of what the Flowers did was blurred (the chain of individual arabesques en l’air by the men, for example), Tiffany Hedman brought much charm to the role of Lead Flower in her arms and shoulders and in the way she held her head. As Clara’s sister, Louise, first of all, then as a Mirliton, Alison McWhinney demonstrated again the grace that characterises the movements of her arms, and hands, and ‘ballet neck’. In her white costume with its Art Nouveau-ish, insect-wing sleeves, the Mirliton brings to mind all the women dancers who have performed on the stage of the London Coliseum since the beginning of the twentieth century. Above all, when she dances alone.

Daniel McCormick captured the stance of the toreador for the Spanish dance. Though not without his moment of unsteadiness, gold-turbaned Daniel Kraus is the dancer who makes most sense of what the man in the Arabian dance has to do since it was re-choreographed in 2013. The dancers of the Russian dance were the most applauded; but half the point of the dance, this year, was lost: Clara’s mother (Jane Haworth) returned for it, in kokoshnik, accompanied by a dancer who is not Clara’s father.

Perhaps because it was the opening night, Rina Kanehara’s Clara and Jeffrey Cirio’s Nephew seemed wan. Neither looked really comfortable until it came to the variations that follow the grand pas de deux. But, after all, no matter. There was Fabian Reimair as Drosselmeyer. There was James Streeter as Mouse King. There were the Snowflakes, clumping a little at first but triumphant at their exit. There was the music from Gavin Sutherland and the English Ballet Philharmonic, expressive of childlike wonder but also acknowledging death. And with its house front, its frozen canal, its Act II coup de théâtre that never stops being a coup de théâtre however many times you see it, the magic of ENB’s Nutcracker is pretty much assured.

John O’Dwyer

For more about English National Ballet click here.

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • UPDATED ONLINE NEWS! IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC __________________________________
  • NEW! BBC Proms turns 125 years old – 17 July to 12 September 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera North in 2020-2021 – postponements and plans __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Glyndebourne Festival Opera opens for a 2020 summer season __________________________________
  • NEW! Baritone Federico Longhi’s Rigoletto is part of Parma’s June Verdian renaissance __________________________________
  • NEW! 69th Wexford Festival Opera – 11 to 18 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Dresden’s Semperoper reopens with Anna Netrebko on 19 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Saal in 2020-21 __________________________________
  • NEW! LMP’s first UK chamber orchestra performances since Covid-19 struck __________________________________
  • NEW! Oxford Lieder Festival – 10-17 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Metropolitan Opera (2020–)2021 season update __________________________________
  • NEW! Royal Opera House announces first live concert since beginning of lockdown __________________________________
  • NEW! Semi-staged Das Rheingold on Deutsche Oper Berlin’s parking deck from 12 June __________________________________
  • NEW! A breath of fresh air: Opera Holland Park announces 2021 season __________________________________
  • NEW! Grange Park Opera’s 2020 Found Season – 4 June to 12 July __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2020 Salzburg Festival – 1 to 30 August __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival’s 2020 online series of concerts and talks __________________________________
  • The Singapore Symphony in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • UPDATED ONLINE NEWS! IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC __________________________________
  • NEW! We’ll be back! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra weathering the Covid-19 storm __________________________________
  • NEW! World Ballet School Day – inaugural edition 7 July 2020 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Longborough Festival Opera launches podcast and extraordinary generosity of the audience __________________________________
  • NEW! The Music Critics Association of North America Best New Opera Award to Blue __________________________________
  • NEW! Lincoln Center honors Pride with a light installation on its iconic plaza __________________________________
  • R.I.P. Dame Vera Lynn (1917-2020): Did we really need Vera Lynn during the war? __________________________________
  • NEW! What price Sherlock Holmes? __________________________________
  • NEW! BBC to show the ROH’s first post-lockdown performance and their other recent music news __________________________________
  • NEW! Woody Allen comes back fighting with a book and A Rainy Day in New York __________________________________
  • NEW! Educating Rita, says who? __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020 Three Choirs Festival – postponed __________________________________
  • NEW! ACCOMPANIST OR PARTNER? PIANIST SUSIE ALLAN IN CONVERSATION WITH JOHN QUINN __________________________________
  • NEW! Need to escape reality? Enter into the magical world of composer David Hertzberg __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month