Theatre Review: The Nutcracker

Words: Ian C Douglas
Friday 18 January 2019
reading time: min, words

From Russia With Dance


The Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet makes a return visit to Nottingham with two more of Tchaikovsky’s greatest hits. On this occasion, Sleeping Beauty kicks off the first couple of nights with the Nutcracker on the last two. So how was Sleeping Beauty? The ballet version premiered in 1890, and this is a fine chance to see it more or less as it must have been all those years ago.

In this production of the mythical narcoleptic, the design has gone all pre-revolutionary France. Think Louis the Sun King, Palace of Versailles, musketeers. And with the ballerina’s tutus, the costume designers were clearly in a mood for pastel. The subtle shades of the dresses, from one end of the spectrum and to the other prove most soothing on the eye.

Ballet, of course, is a game of two halves: music and dance. Sleeping Beauty is one of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s most famous compositions. Act Two begins with the rousing bars from the best-known section. But there’s much more to the composition than the highlights, and at two and half hours, this is a chance to listen to the complete score. The orchestra do a top-notch job.

The Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet was formed in the nineties by acclaimed prima ballerina Marina Medvetskaya. The city of Saint Petersburg has a long tradition for world class ballet, including Tchaikovsky himself, and the Kirov ballet company, considered the best in Russia.

So, there’s a wealth of tradition and talent to draw upon. Among the star turns at this performance was Yuliya Yashinsa as the Fairy of Goodness and Evgeniy Silakov as the bad fairy, Carabosse. You can have a good boo at Carabosse at the end. The plot, naturally, is an excuse for the dancing. In the final act, the courtiers are joined by a few fairy tale characters for the Royal Wedding. Red Riding Hood, Puss-In-Boots, and gang, bring a renewed energy to the stage and the audience is treated to some high-kicking dance moves.

Colour, music and dance. A restful antidote to the winter blues.

The St Petersburg Classic Ballet performs at the Royal Concert Hall from Weds 16 Jan 2019 to Sun 20 Jan 2019.

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