Reviews are in for the The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House in London.
Not quite an annual treat at the ROH, Peter Wright’s 1984 production, now revised returns to its full majesty set to Tchaikovsky iconic score.
On its opening night Isabella Gasparini and James Hay played Clara and the Hans-Peter / Nutcracker; Yasmine Naghdi and Matthew Ball, as the Sugar Plum and her Prince; Mayara Magri presided over the Waltz of the Flowers, while Melissa Hamilton sizzled in the Arabian dance and Gary Avis was magnetic as the mysterious Drosselmeyer.
Music by Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky, choreography by Peter Wright after Lev Ivanov, scenario by Marius Petipa after E.T.A. Hoffmann, production and scenario by Peter Wright, design by Julia Trevelyan Oman, lighting by Mark Henderson, production consultant Roland John Wiley, staging Christopher Carr and Gary Avis, Arabian Dance adapted by Gary Avis.
The Nutcracker runs until 14 January 2023 at the Royal Opera House London.
"A crisp, sweet treat that’s never cloying"
"This isn’t the most overtly dramatic Nutcracker – but it’s 2022 and you can have too much drama. If we hug the venerable ballet close, perhaps it’s because, for all the sugar, it’s a work about home and family."
"Crowning the ballet’s climax, the Sugar Plum and her prince are killer roles: offstage for almost two hours, then having to deliver dressage levels of classical technique. Yasmine Naghdi and a sprightly Matthew Ball set the bar high, their every turn crisp as a sugared almond. Naghdi’s arms trail with gentle precision, while her ankles seem both tough as titanium and flexible as the softest chamois. You can only surrender to the festive magic."
"The Royal Ballet’s winter warmer"
"This sumptuously designed production is a treat if you don’t dwell on the dramatic flaws and just enjoy the magical music and performances"
"The large scale means many dancers getting their moment. Opening night’s Clara, Isabella Gasparini, is suitably sweet; Liam Boswell impresses with his springing jumps as Drosselmeyer’s assistant; Mayara Magri has a late turn as the Rose Fairy, gleaming with fresh energy. Sugar Plum Fairy Yasmine Naghdi and prince Matthew Ball arrive in silver-blonde wigs that make them look unreal. Naghdi’s dancing has a similar quality. When your ballet teacher told you to imagine a string pulling you upwards from the top of your head, Naghdi actually looks like that, a perfect central axis, thus she spins in effortless fouettés. She’s queenly in the Elizabeth II way, polished facade not giving anything away, and clicks into poses as if it’s a photoshoot, but also has a gracious musicality, filling the phrases."
"A Christmas treat on a handsome scale"
"Grand and gilded, a Christmas treat on a handsome scale. From its mighty growing Christmas tree to Yasmine Naghdi’s poised Sugar Plum Fairy, it’s an evening of festive sparkle."
"The Royal Ballet’s Nutcracker is a gleaming Rolls-Royce of a production"
"Peter Wright's 1984 staging never succumbs to sickly sweetness but – almost 40 years old – remains as crisp as the first fall of snow"
"Julia Trevelyan Oman’s grand 19th-century storybook designs, opening with guests arriving by sled, swathed in furs, give way to an otherworldly beauty: towering fir trees and an inky sky with pinprick stars, against which the golden angels glide silently. This Nutcracker never succumbs to sickly sweetness. Instead, it’s as crisp and wondrous as the first fall of snow."
"Feel-good confection of the highest order"
"Flawless take on a Christmas classic"
"Wright’s cosy, smartly crafted, traditional classical dance spectacle is as warmly cheery and beautiful as one could wish. What’s more, you could keep your eyes shut and still have a great time just listening to Tchaikovsky’s evergreen score."
"Royal Ballet classic brings sumptuous wonder and fireworks"
"Unlike theatre and opera — which regularly reimagine and reinvent their pasts — ballet loves a good tradition. And one of the most important traditions in the Royal Ballet’s repertoire is Peter Wright’s Nutcracker. First seen at the Royal Opera House (ROH) in 1984 (though revised and improved 15 years later), his production — back for the festive season — is still delighting audiences almost 40 years later. Why bother to fix something that isn’t broken?"