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A night at the ballet

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

I had a wonderful evening out with my friend Bénédicte yesterday. We went for an early dinner before catching The Nutcracker ballet at our local opera house.

IMG_5628It had been a very, very long time since I last attended a performance there. It had been a very, very long time since I last attended a performance there. When I was 8, if I remember correctly, my sister and I had an operetta season ticket. That were the times when there were still a lot of operettas on the programme. One could get a season ticket for both operas and operettas. Going to see the operettas at a young age nourished my interest in the history of the Strauss family I guess. My sister and I used to have a great time during our visits at the opera house: dressing up, exploring the venue during the breaks and often being treated chips afterwards. Though I must admit that yesterday the staircases, corridors, auditorium and stage seemed a lot smaller than in the olden days 🙂

We started the evening at the Lully auditorium, one of the beautiful rooms on the premises for an introduction.

Being a story set at Christmas time, I found it a bit strange to go and see it in February. I also feared, as is often the case with operas and operettas these days, that there would be very modern costumes and staging. But it was great. It was cold enough outside to enjoy the ballet even at this time of the year, and though there were modern touches regarding the costumes and staging, it all took my breath away. The only disadvantage was that a lot of the action happened at the right side of the stage. Our seats were at the right side, so we pretty much missed out on most of that but could still get what was happening.

The story in a nutshell 🙂 : Clara’s uncle gives her a nutcracker for Christmas. During the night, Clara returns to the living room where all the presents are kept and she witnesses how her nutcracker comes to life. He is attacked by the Mouse King and fights off the mice army with Clara. After that they are drown into an imaginary world where they meet amongst others the Snow Queen and the Sugar Plum Fairy before they get home again.

Nancy Osbaldston and Laurie McSherry-Gray made a wonderful Clare and Nutcracker.
I was especially taken by Brent Daneels’ performance as Fritz, Clara’s brother. Waw!
Aiko Tanaka as the servant caught my eye too. Well, her feet did. Whenever she got on the stage, and that was often, she’d move around ‘en pointe’ (on the tips of her toes). Amazing!

Some of the costumes were breath-taking as well. There was a scene where all the family members were mice.
The dresses of the snowflakes resembled the classic ballet tutu dresses but had the shape of snowflakes cut out in paper (I think it was paper).
The Sugar Plum Faire was a gigantic cake with lots of cream and cherries. How she managed to dance the way she did is beyond me. She was accompanied by six cupcakes that entered the stage as ‘normal’ cupcakes but turned out to have dancers in them: the cupcake was the tutu dress and the cream icing the hat.
The flowers were represented by dancers who carried masks made out of flowers. Beautiful!

I adored the bit when the nutcracker came to life: it was a marionette that moved head and limbs. Adorable! And the mice army that attacked him were remote controlled ones!
Oh and the scene with the doors. OMG. Doors in all shapes came on and off the stage. Each of them containing one or more characters that came out to do a little dance.

All in all it was a marvellous performance and the applause very well-deserved.

Follow the links if you feel like exploring the world of The Nutcracker, its composer Pjotr Ilyich Tchaikovski and have a listen here. Or even better: go to a performance if you can.

Enjoy your Valentine’s day.

xxx

Ann

I found the production photos here. They are by Filip Van Roe.
The ones of the building and auditorium were taken by myself.

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