Qualifies Handily As A Foremost Claimant For The Best Filmed Performance Of The Nutcracker Ballet.
Tchaikowsky's Nutcracker has, over the past century, become a fundamental Christmas season entertainment staple, in the event quite appropriate, since the work's action takes place upon Christmas Eve, but as the ballet has proved to be such a popular affair to all ages, it is a welcome diversion during any time of year. This rendering, shot with videotape for BBC Television before a very appreciative live matinée audience at Covent Garden, is abounding with first-class stage design, costumes, and special effects, all of which join with a good deal of splendid dancing by members of the Royal Ballet to make for a most engaging film. The original linear choreography created by Lev Ivanov (1892) has been employed, when applicable, by Peter Wright, Artistic Director of the Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet, whose researches within dance archives revealed a large amount of material that is used here for the staging methods of the piece, while additionally providing attendant and highly creative movements that often focus upon comedic elements intrinsic within the original work, without eschewing its well-known storyline requirements. A cardinal reason for most balletomanes to view the film will naturally center upon the technical credits of Anthony Dowell, soon to be named Director of the Royal Ballet, and here performing as The Prince, and his highly able partner, Lesley Collier, as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and although sporadic raggedness may be found throughout from members of the Corps, the four specialty numbers performed in the Land of Sweets (Spanish, Arab, Chinese, Russian) are engaging as is as well the acting by all, notably Julie Rose as Clara and Guy Niblett as Clara's companion, The Nutcracker himself. Dowell's perfection of line is seen here to good effect, especially in his cool and light partnering of Collier during their pas de deux, this perhaps most beautiful of all romantic pieces, and a meet showcase for the skills of the pair, with the ballerina's port de bras being exceptional. Mention must additionally be made of the elegantly detailed designing by Julia Trevelyan Oman, efficient lighting from John B. Read, and the musicological augmentation by Tchaikowsky authority Roland John Wiley, along with proficient conducting of Gennady Rozhdestvensky who is minutely conversant with Tchaikowsky's score. While there can be no denying the artistic impact of several other filmed performances of Nutcracker, this effort will be the most emotionally pleasing to many viewers.
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