An evening watching the ENB Nutcracker is an unforgettable experience from the minute you step through the doors… As you gaze around the music hall described as the “people’s palace of entertainment”, you are mesmerized by the talent and intricacy in all the performances, whilst your ears are indulged by the Orchestra’s live performance of Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score.
This Post is the 2nd instalment of the ENB: Nutcracker series
Welcome to the English National Ballet’s Performance of the Nutcracker
A Christmas classic
“On a sparkling Christmas Eve in a frost-dusted Edwardian London, Clara and her enchanted Nutcracker doll discover a magical world, where she battles with the Mouse King and meets a handsome stranger. As the air grows colder, Clara and her valiant Nutcracker take a hot air balloon ride across London to the glistening Land of Snow where her adventure really begins.”
This classical ballet piece captivates all in the audience from the young children excited at Christmas time to the more mature yet it has the ability to please frequenters of ballet and accommodate those new to the Colliseum….
A Background to the ENB Nutcracker (Synopsis)
From it’s Premiere in St Petersburg 1892
Despite many popular productions since it’s premiere, the ballet is to some extent limited by it’s story . It’s narrative underpinning can at times be shaky, confusing some members of audience (often those who critique it’s performance), however a basic background to the Nutcracker can overcome such issues and make the experience easily enjoyable by newcomers to ballet like myself. Despite this, the Nutcracker Performance by the ENB is an enchanting experience
I would recommend anyone going to see this ballet to have an idea of the synopsis and it’s little “twists” to get the most of the experience and truly enjoy the performance.
The first Act concentrates the theatrical story as the magician Drosselmeyer attempts to use the heroine, Clara, to free his nephew from the curse that’s transformed him into a hideous nutcracker
The second Act contains most of the well known ballet performances e.g. the spectacular Sugar Plum Fairy
It is Christmas Eve; Clara’s family is having a party and everyone is invited. All the family is excited, especially Clara and Freddie who are looking forward to seeing their friends and Father Christmas. Clara is especially excited about seeing her best friend Charlotte whilst their mother and big sister Louise look on fondly. Outside people skate on the frozen Thames.
Dr Drosselmeyer, a rather mysterious old family friend, arrives. With him is his nephew, fresh from Military School. The guests arrive, presents are starting to gather under the Christmas tree and the children’s excitement builds. Dr Drosselmeyer introduces a puppet theatre, in which puppets perform to the delight of the guests. Louise and her three admirers are inspired to dance by the puppets’ performance. Dr Drosselmeyer presents Clara with her Christmas present – a Nutcracker doll. Clara is thrilled and begins to dance with her new much-loved gift. Freddie grabs the doll so enthusiastically from Clara that he manages to break it. In despair, Clara turns to Dr Drosselmeyer for help. He, as if by magic, manages to put the doll back together again. Clara is delighted and forgives her brother. The guests depart, the children go up to bed and the house becomes eerily quiet.
Clara has a nightmare in which her Nutcracker is attacked by the evil Mouse King. The clock strikes midnight. Giant rats and mice led by the Mouse King appear as the living room undergoes a transformation. The Nutcracker becomes a dashing soldier and a battle between the two sides ensues. The Mouse King and his army are victorious and the Nutcracker is injured. Everything melts away to leave Clara and the Nutcracker alone as snow starts to fall.
The Land of Snow
The living room is magically turned into a winter wonderland filled with sparkling snowflakes. Clara dances with the Nutcracker who seems to be Drosselmeyer’s nephew. The Mouse King pursues Clara through the snow. Clara, the nephew and Dr Drosselmeyer escape in a balloon, flying across the glistening, frosty landscape with the Mouse King clinging onto the side.
Drosselmeyer’s Puppet Theatre
The balloon lands beside the puppet theatre. Dancers from all over the world representing China, Arabia, Russia and Spain come to life and leap out of the theatre.
The Mouse King is finally vanquished by the heroic nephew and a magnificent celebration begins.
The dancers perform divertissements. The puppet theatre disappears to reveal a beautiful garden, amongst which dancers perform the Waltz of the Flowers.
The Sugar Plum Fairy
Finally, Clara dances a glorious pas de deux as the Sugar Plum Fairy with the nephew as the Prince. They are joined by all the characters from around the world.
Suddenly Clara wakes up with a jolt back in her bedroom. Freddie and Clara run outside into the snow to wave a final goodbye to Drosselmeyer and his nephew.