Even on a cold and drizzly Cardiff there can be little more festive than going to see “The Nutcracker” on Christmas Eve. And so we went to St David’s Hall to watch The Russian State Ballet of Siberia’s production of this Tchaikovsky classic.
While we are not big ballet-goers, much of the score was familiar to us, as it would be to most people even if they didn’t know where the music was from. We really enjoyed watching the orchestra warm up before the performance started and we were lucky enough to be sitting in the circle which meant that we could watch the musicians throughout the performance and it was fascinating to watch how they interacted with the conductor, with each other and with the ballerinas on stage.
This production was very similar, if not identical, to the version performed at the same venue in 2017 which was actually the last ballet that we had seen. The story was fairly familiar to us which was helpful as it can be difficult to follow a show where there are no words to tell you what is happening. We heard some of the children around us asking their parents what was happening as they couldn’t quite follow the story.
Most of the story happens in the first act. In it a young girl, Marie, is given a nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve by the toymaker Drosselmeyer. Too excited to sleep, She sneaks downstairs to see the doll, when an army of mice attack – and the tin soldiers, dolls and, of course, the nutcracker, must fight to save her. The nutcracker is then turned into a handsome prince, who dances with Marie.
The costumes were very detailed and beautiful and the set makers had done an excellent job – by projecting the scenes onto the backdrop they were able to make very detailed, moving scenes which really added to the show. As in the 2017 production we loved the scene where the toys appeared to jump out from the backdrop and come to life on the stage and we thought that this was very cleverly done.
There was little story to the second half which involved the different characters, including dancers from different countries, showing off their dancing skills until Marie wakes in the drawing room, to find the whole experience was nothing but a wonderful dream. Truth be told we found the second half a little boring and some of the children around us did too as we heard a few asking their parents when the show was going to end!
Overall though we did enjoy this ballet and would recommend it as a good way to get into the festive spirit – certainly we left the hall feeling ready for Christmas. We would, however, recommend reading the synopsis beforehand in order to follow what is going on.
Swan Lake is now being performed until December 31