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OBT's Nutcracker


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#1 printscess

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Posted 09 December 2007 - 09:05 PM

OBT just got a very nice review in The Oregonian. Has anyone seen it?

#2 carbro

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Posted 09 December 2007 - 10:04 PM

Thanks, printscess. "A very nice review" indeed! Click -->here<-- to read it.

If anyone sees an article in the press -- no blogs, thank you -- that you think should be noted in Links but hasn't, please bring them to the moderators' attention by sending a link via the "Contact Us" link.

#3 Helene

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Posted 09 December 2007 - 10:06 PM

It didn't come up in our Links search as of now, and a search of the Oregonian site on "Oregon Ballet Theatre" and "Nutcracker" is coming up null for this review. Perhaps it will be posted later this week.

If it's posted, it will be added to Links. This forum is for members to discuss performances they've seen.

Has anyone on Ballet Talk seen this production this year? If so, we'd love to hear about it.

Edited to Add -- Carbro found it, and it's now posted to Links for today.

#4 Mel Johnson

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Posted 10 December 2007 - 06:56 AM

A very good review indeed, although I would differ with the "museum piece" analogy as a negative. Should we stop looking at Michelangelo's "David" because it's old? Balanchine's version is a near-perfect preservation of the original libretto and method of stage production which preserves the magic, which impressed the writer as a big positive. The 1892 version of the ballet did use children for children's parts, which feature is violated at the stager's own risk! Balanchine even tipped in the unused entr'acte from Sleeping Beauty to fill in a little, not too much, logic before the transformation into the world of magic. He did include the Nutcracker Prince's mime speech from the original, which, well-performed, as I have seen a number of times, gets applause for its thumbnail summation of Act I! I used to have a quibble with the "old" way Balanchine handled the Grand Pas de Deux, but then he reincorporated the chiffon scarf and the little wagon under it, recreating the original special effect! The Sugar Plum Fairy just used to do a line of bourrées to the very big recapitulation of the main theme, a curious dissonance between music and action, but then, I never saw Tallchief do the role, so I don't know whether it was such a dissonance with her doing it! The Balanchine, to my view, achieves the nice narrow balance of spookiness and joy. OBT is to be congratulated on having a great Nutcracker tradition of its own, with the previous "Russian" version, and now this masterpiece in their repertoire!

#5 bart

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Posted 10 December 2007 - 08:25 AM

I've not seen OBT in this, though I saw the MCB Balanchine Nut earlier this month. I join Helene in hoping that our Oregonians (and visitors) will give us their impressions from Portland.

Here's the relevant quote containing the ambiguous "museum piece" reference:

One could argue that Balanchine's version is a museum piece, fascinating for its history and trotted out year after year for its formidable ability to raise company revenue. But that would ignore the very real pull this ballet exerts on children. As the young balletomane seated next to me at Saturday's matinee breathlessly asked, "Is that real snow, Mommy?" The adult eye sees creaky sets, hopelessly dated costumes and intricate choreography. The child sees magic.

The review itself explains (indirectly) the real power of Balanchine's version for adult: the amazing, inventive, complex dancing. I'm not refering only to the variations and the big ensembles, or to the central pas de deux. The party scene -- with parents and children -- is full of character dance and intricately choreographed moves. It's almost TOO packed with detail and incident. :crying: The variations are wonderful (though I agree with the reviewer that there's something odd about Coffee's Turkish harem look).

Most of the review focuses on OBT's dancers. That's the part that contradicts the negative implications "museum piece." Great choreography challenges dancers. (It helps when they are Balanchine trained, but I don't imagine it's necessary in this ballet.) Clearly the reviewer found that the OBT dancers met the challenge.

Nutcrackers can be danced in several ways. I've seen Balanchine's version performed without conviction, without the sense of newness and wonder that it requires. I've also seen it performed with electricity and excitement that seem to energize everyone on stage. It sounds from this review as though OBT's performances this year are in the second category.

#6 Mel Johnson

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Posted 10 December 2007 - 08:53 AM

Bart is entirely correct; this setting of this ballet does not rise or fall on one ballerina. It has a beautiful balance of many different qualities which form an admirable complex harmony throughout the whole work. In the 1892 production, even Petipa said of Antonietta dell'Era, the original Sugar Plum Fairy, "She's no good, but she's what we got! :crying: " Balanchine even took the original critical complaint that the ballerina didn't dance until far too late in the work, and, since he had moved her variation to before the entry of the shellboat with Clara/Marie and the Nutcracker Prince, that just left the male variation, which is a particularly wheezy tarantella, and the coda. Since the male variation wasn't very inspiring, Balanchine left it out, so that the Cavalier can be especially brilliant when he begins the coda, not being tired out from having an intervening variation. Like I said, masterpiece! Yes, OBT watchers, tell us how the show goes!

#7 Farrell Fan

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Posted 10 December 2007 - 09:41 AM

"As the young balletomane seated next to me at Saturday's matinee breathlessly asked, "Is that real snow, Mommy?" The adult eye sees creaky sets, hopelessly dated costumes and intricate choreography. The child sees magic."

As the grandmotherly woman seated near me yesterday was overheard saying during the Waltz of the Snowflakes at NYCB's Nutcracker "The snow is so beautiful. It looks real."

Adults are not immune to Balanchine's magic.

#8 lillianna

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 06:53 PM

I just returned from today's matinee performance. I took my 4 year old grandson to see his first ballet.. He LOVED the first act, especially the battle scene. He was so excited at intermission that he didn't want to leave his seat in case it started again---didn't want to miss anything. By the middle of the second act, however, he kind of melted to the floor :flowers: ONce he figured out that there was no dasterdly Sugar Plum fairy coming to try to scuttle the festivities, he lost interest.
There were some high points today. It was Brian Simcoe's first performance of Cavalier and he was wonderful! What a great jumper! CAn't wait to see more of his performances this year. Leta Biasucci was a standout in both Snow and as HOt Chocolate. Love her smile and lines. Also outstanding was Alison Roper as Dewdrop.
I have never seen the OBT performances of Nutcracker before. The sets in the party scene set the tree back away from the action making it seem to be of little importance. Not usually how the tree is seen in the other Balanchine performances that I have seen. Also, having the stage totally cleared except for the tree and the soldiers at the beginning of the battle scene was unusual. The stark set made the tree seem smaller than it should have. The children were all well rehearsed. Sarah Stone was wonderful as Marie. She was very animated and lovely. As were Wyatt McCoy as Fritz and Lucas Pitts as the Little Prince. The SNow corps and Flower corps obviously contained dancers not part of OBT. Snow seemed a bit rough, some of the dancers seemed confused about where to go and how to use the snow pom poms. Even though I do not know the company very well, having only seen a few peformances, it seemed pretty easy to pick out the OBT dancers from the students in the production. I was very surprised to see teenagers as pollichinelles. Usually that is a part for younger children. They were taller than the Flowers.
I have season tickets to OBT so am anxious to see the company in other performances this season


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