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

__________________________________
  • NEW! Beethoven 250 at London’s Southbank Centre __________________________________
  • NEW! Snape Maltings – January to April 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Saffron Hall in February – August 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2020 – Gluck’s Paris and Helen __________________________________
  • NEW! Surrey’s Grange Park Opera in 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Leeds Lieder Concert Series 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Edinburgh Usher Hall 2019-2020 Orchestral Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycles __________________________________
  • NEW! Ex Cathedra’s 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Geneva Grand Théâtre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019-20 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden __________________________________
  • NEW! City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera House in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Opera in 2019-2020 and New Artistic Director __________________________________
  • UPDATED! ENB in 2019-2020 and Opening of their New London City Island Home __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music and Other Events at the Southbank Centre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Cleveland Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at the Barbican in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Ballet’s 70th Anniversary Gala Performances – 17 & 18 January 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR HERVÉ NIQUET INTERVIEWED ABOUT GRÉTRY’S RICHARD, COEUR DE LION __________________________________
  • NEW! SOPRANO ANGELA GHEORGHIU IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • NOW REVIEWED! MATTHEW BOURNE’S ROMEO AND JULIET IN CINEMAS FROM 22 OCTOBER __________________________________
  • NEW! CELLIST JOHANNES MOSER IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • CHORUS MASTER STEPHEN DOUGHTY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • REVIEWED! Ron Howard’s Pavarotti in Cinemas 13 July (Preview) and Nationwide (15 July) __________________________________
  • MULTI-FACETED MUSICIAN JOY LISNEY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • ‘MUSICAL MAGIC’: AN INTERVIEW WITH VIOLINIST HENNING KRAGGERUD __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH LISETTE OROPESA AS SHE RETURNS TO LA OPERA FOR ORFEO ED EURIDICE __________________________________
  • BARRY DOUGLAS IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month