The Royal Ballet’s 2023 season return of The Nutcracker is a top-class production that seamlessly marries the timeless charm of Tchaikovsky’s classic with innovative choreography and exquisite production design. Under the artistic direction of Kevin O’Hare and with choreography by Peter Wright after Lev Ivanov, this production manages to capture the magic of the festive season while infusing fresh life into the well-loved narrative.
The standout feature is the exceptional choreography that pays homage to the traditional elements of The Nutcracker while introducing contemporary movements that add a layer of sophistication and a modern touch to a ballet which is 121 years old. The lead dancers, who alternate performances during the run, were led by the understudy in the title role the evening we attended but whose performance was a flawless combination of technical precision and emotional depth. The pas de deux sequences are particularly breathtaking, conveying both the grace of classical ballet and the nuances of the characters.
The set design and costumes are as stunning at you might expect and transport the audience to a dreamlike place. The attention to detail in every scene, from the glittering snowflakes in the Land of Snow to the opulent grandeur of the Kingdom of Sweets, reflects the meticulous craftsmanship of the production team at the Royal Opera House. The seamless transitions between scenes are a testament to the level of professionalism and dedication that The Royal Ballet is known for.
The orchestral arrangement, conducted Charlotte Politi, is another triumph of this production. The Royal Ballet Sinfonia brings Tchaikovsky’s iconic score to life with precision and passion, perfectly complementing the dancers on stage. The synergy between the dancers and the orchestra creates a harmonious spectacle that resonates with the spirit of the festive season.
While this production respects the traditional narrative, it also introduces subtle changes that breathe new life into the storyline. Having seen The Nutcracker performed by several other ballet companies around the UK and in London at Christmas, this production will last in the memory as the one which surpasses them all.
A Nutcracker to remember – ★★★★★ 5 stars