The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker_Jim McFarlaneReturning to the stage for the first time since sell-out seasons in 2010, The Australian Ballet prepares to enchant audiences with The Nutcracker, an unmissable opportunity to delve into the wintery fairytale land of Clara and her magical friends.

The world’s original toy story has captivated audiences for decades; a timeless classic of dancing rats, toy soldiers and whirling snowflakes seen through the eyes of a little girl at Christmas.

Artistic Director David McAllister said the season will be the icing on the cake for 2014. “We’ve had a full year, keeping audiences engrossed with narrative classics, contemporary works and Australian premieres. I can’t think of a better way to complete the ballet package than with The Nutcracker.”

“It epitomises all of the elements that go into turning a ballet into a theatrical spectacular: intricate sets, exquisite costumes, powerful music, virtuoso choreography and of course, world-class dancers to bring it all together,” said McAllister.

Originally created for the Birmingham Royal Ballet in 1990, English legend Sir Peter Wright’s version is a visual treat. Featuring sumptuous sets and costumes worthy of a fairytale, The Nutcracker is perfectly complemented by Tchaikovsky’s acclaimed score – his final ballet composition.

The Nutcracker is one of the most labour-intensive productions in the Company’s repertoire. The level of detail required to bring this ballet to life is extraordinary. There are over 10,000 hand-sewn beads on the Sugar Plum Fairy costume, making it one of the most lavish and the most expensive tutu in the Company’s collection, valued at $10,000. Adding to the magic of this production is an enchanted Christmas tree that magically grows throughout the performance and the famed handcrafted Nutcracker doll.

Celebrated UK designer John F Macfarlane oversaw the recreation of sets for The Australian Ballet in 2007, and his spectacular vision retains its sparkle and shine today. The result is a breathtaking ballet that will transport even the most cynical of adults back to a childhood wonderland. Add a company of stunning dancers and the power of Tchaikovsky’s immortal score, and the grand scale of this wonderful production becomes more than evident.

Acknowledged as one of the most popular ballets of all time, The Nutcracker has a rich history. The story first appeared in 1816 in a book of short tales by German writer Ernst Theador Amadeus Hoffman under the title Nussknacker und Mauskönig (Nutcracker and the Mouse King), and it made its ballet debut in 1892 in St Petersburg, Russia.

Since then, it has been reimagined countless times in productions including Graeme Murphy’s uniquely Australian take in Nutcracker – The Story of Clara, staged to great acclaim by The Australian Ballet in 2009. Two very different interpretations illustrate the artistic depth of what appears at first glance as a simple children’s tale.

So entrenched is The Nutcracker in Christmas mythology, it is at once instantly recognisable to new ballet audiences and a charming old friend to ballet lovers. The depth of its musical score, choreography and costumes is so brilliant, it brings a new sense of wonder and enchantment each time.

The Nutcracker
State Theatre – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 12 – 25 September 2014
Bookings: 1300 369 741 or online at: www.australianballet.com.au

For more information, visit: www.australianballet.com.au for details.

Image: The Nutcracker – photo by Jim McFarlane

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