The Nutcracker

Alberta Ballet in cooperation with BC Ballet

Guest Conductor: Peter Dala Artistic Director: Jean Grand-Maitre Featured Orchestra: Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

Venue: Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Date: 5 -8 December 2002

Reviewer: R. M. Pink

In the world of ballet, the Christmas Season does not officially begin until the presentation of The Nutcracker. Once again, Vancouver audiences were enthalled as this tradition returned to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Ballet British Columbia sponsored the production presented this year by Alberta Ballet under the artistic direction of Jean Grand-Maitre.

The Nutcracker is a charming tale that appeals to generations. Like all classics, the theme of the story is timeless.

In the first scene, Uncle Drosselmeier is busy in his workshop, preparing Christmas gifts for his godchildren. In Scene 2, Christmas 1886 in Nuremburg, the Silberhaus family is hosting a Christmas party. Naughty Fritz torments his sister for having a love of dance. When Uncle Drossmeier arrives at the party, he enchants everyone with his magic tricks.He also brings along mechanical dolls featuring a ballerina and a toy soldier. He presents Clara, his godchild, with a special Nutcracker doll soldier. Sadly, Fritz becomes extremely jealous and plots to steal the treasured doll away from Clara.

After midnight, when Clara goes down to the darkened living room, all the toys have come alive and grown to life size. The Toy Soldier is challenged to a battle by the menacing Mouse King. Later, a prince transports Clara to a magical place surrounded by falling snow. There the Snow Queen, Snow King and the snowflakes dance around Clara. A magnificent swan then appears to transport Clara and the Prince to the Land of Sweets. Clara's magical journey ends when she awakens in her living room, safe and secure and resting beside the Nutcracker doll.

Alberta Ballet is commended for presenting the ballet in a dreamlike quality. The set design and use of veils added to this ambience. Moreover, the dancing was slow, fluid, and graceful, thus complementing the storyline perfectly. Audience members could feel the sense of being transported along with Clara into a dream world. This is a delicate and difficult artistic accomplishment but one which Alberta Ballet achieved.

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra provided excellent musical support under the capable hand of guest conductor Peter Dala. Once again, The Nutcracker enchanted Vancouver audiences and thanks to Alberta Ballet, planted new seeds of imagination in young and old alike.

2002, RM Pink

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