2018 at Oxford’s New Theatre starts with the now traditional visit of the Russian State Ballet of Siberia complete with orchestra, promoted by Raymond Gubbay, bringing some last seasonal goodies to enjoy.  As well as perennial favourite The Nutcracker, RSBS are performing a much loved Russian wintry fairytale in the UK for the first time…

Protected from the outside world by Father Frost, The Snow Maiden plays innocently amongst the dancing snowflakes in the enchanted Land of Frost.  Based on a traditional folk-tale and set in the snow covered landscape of rural Russia,  this sparkling ballet follows the exquisite Snow Maiden as she dances into the human world.  (more…)

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Another transmission of The Nutcracker offered by Oxford’s Phoenix Picturehouse for the festive season, this time a live recorded performance by the Bolshoi Ballet from 2014.  Christmas would not be complete without the enchanting tale of young Marie and her nutcracker prince! Danced by the Bolshoi’s principals, Russian ballet master Yuri Grigorovich’s staging of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s fairy tale will transport children and adults alike to a world of magic and wonder for the holiday season.
On Christmas Eve, Marie’s wooden nutcracker doll is transformed into a beautiful prince who takes her on a magical journey. Before they leave, they must confront the Mouse King, whose army is threatening Marie…

Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Choreography: Yuri Grigorovich
Libretto: Yuri Grigorovich (after E. T. A. Hoffmann and Marius Petipa)

Cast: Denis Rodkin (the Nutcracker Prince), Anna Nikulina (Marie), Andrei Merkuriev (Drosselmeyer), Vitaly Biktimirov (the Mouse King) and the Bolshoi Corps De Ballet

Date:  Sunday 18th December, 3.00pm

Venue:  Phoenix Picturehouse, 57 Walton St, Oxford OX2 6AE

Tickets:  Book online here or call 0871 902 5736

A traditional Christmas treat in live transmission at Oxford’s Phoenix Picturehouse.  The Royal Ballet‘s glorious production of The Nutcracker, created by Peter Wright in 1984, is the production par excellence of an all-time ballet favourite. It is Christmas Eve and Drosselmeyer the magician sweeps young Clara away on a fantasy adventure in which time is suspended, the family livingroom becomes a great battlefield, and a magical journey takes them through the Land of Snow to the Kingdom of Sweets.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker score was commissioned by the director of the Russian Imperial Theatres, following the resounding success of The Sleeping Beauty in 1890. Marius Petipa created the scenario, which is based on a fairytale by E.T.A. Hoffmann, and Lev Ivanov provided the choreography. The Nutcracker was first performed in 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. It initially had a poor reception, but its combination of enchanting choreography and unforgettable music has since made it one of the most loved of all ballets.

In Peter Wright’s classic production for The Royal Ballet, the stage sparkles with theatrical magic – a Christmas tree grows before our eyes, toy soldiers come to life to fight the villainous Mouse King and Clara and the Nutcracker are whisked off to the Kingdom of Sweets on a golden sleigh. Tchaikovsky’s score contains some of ballet’s best-known melodies, from the flurrying Waltz of the Snowflakes to the dream-like Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy – all brilliantly set in Wright’s choreography. Julia Trevelyan Oman’s designs draw upon 19th-century images of Christmas, making this magical production perfect for the festive season.

Date:  Thursday 8th December 7.15pm

Venue:  Phoenix Picturehouse, 57 Walton St, Oxford OX2 6AE

Tickets:  Book online here or call 0871 902 5736

This transmission will be repeated on Monday 12th December at 12.00, book online here

I had seen Peter Wright’s The Nutcracker once in the 1980s, but its performance by the Royal Ballet on Saturday was a revelation to me.   I had completely forgotten how, by beginning and ending the story with Herr Drosselmeyer, Wright gives the action a unity, logic and coherence that is often lacking in this ballet, which can so easily fall into two virtually separate parts.

The conjuring and special effects, above all the magical growing Christmas tree, entranced an audience that was liberally sprinkled with small children, but it was the quality of the dancing and the drama that made this performance a special one. It felt like a new ballet. (more…)

The ultimate Christmas ballet treat coming up this week as Odeon Plus Culture programmes a live transmission by The Royal Ballet from the Royal Opera House.  From the very first notes of Tchaikovsky’s overture to The Nutcracker, a sense of mystery and magic pervades the theatre as Herr Drosselmeyer sets in train the events that will see his beloved nephew, Hans Peter, freed from the enchantment of the evil Mouse King by the resourceful Clara.  Peter Wright‘s classic production, first seen at Covent Garden in 1984, is an essential part of Christmas for audiences of all ages. (more…)

Royal Ballet Nutcracker, broadcast live to the Phoenix Cinema, Oxford. Thursday 13 December 2012

This was the most enjoyable ROH – to- cinema transmission that I’ve seen. The children among the regular ballet audience gave the auditorium the buzz that’s sometimes lacking, and it was fun to be able to see detailed acting in the party scene close-up (not to mention Drosselmeyer’s magic tricks, which for the slightly myopic work better on screen than from the back of the Amphitheatre). (more…)