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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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The words `fresh' and `exquisite' seemed to be most appropriate to me as I watched this version of the Nutcracker yet again last night. This is the version choreographed by Grigorovich for the Bolshoi Ballet and as such, has its own particular view which differs from others in various respects. The booklet notes describe the story and list the sections within the ballet but there is no information given about this choreography.

In this version the little girl is called Marie rather than Clara. The conflict between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King is finally resolved at the beginning of the second act instead of concluding in Act 1. The character dances are more clearly shown to be dolls and this section also includes a `French dance'. All of these dances are depicted without an audience watching on stage as happens in some versions so there is a greater focus on the dancing dolls themselves. They are beautifully choreographed and danced and have considerable freshness in their clean-lined nature. There is no Sugar Plum Fairy in this version but the same music is used for Marie. `Exquisite' is an entirely appropriate word to describe her variation and its performance. `Enchanting' would be another. Either way I found that I did not miss the Sugar Plum Fairy and felt fully compensated for her absence.

Grigorovich is a master of the large set-piece scenario as can be seen in his `Spartacus' ballet and this characteristic of his work is shown to great effect in the corps de ballet sections. The Waltz of the Snowflakes at the end of Act 1 and the Waltz of the Flowers in Act 2 are particularly pretty and the final waltz and Apotheosis are completely effective.

The Star role of Marie (Nina Kaptsova) is exquisitely performed with utter grace throughout and she is well supported by her Nutcracker Prince (Artem Ovcharenko) who is suitably athletic when given the chance. Drosselmeyer is effective without being slightly menacing as in some versions as are the Mouse King and his mice. The staging and the costumes are all one could wish for and the tree does not disappoint. The whole effect is one of utter prettiness and the fairy tale atmosphere is created and sustained throughout. This is a very kind and magical concept.

The imaging is very crisp and with vibrant colours. The camera work gives a nice balance between close and panoramic shots. The sound reveals the excellence of the Bolshoi orchestra under Pavel Klinichev and is presented in DTS-HD and stereo. The recording was made in 2010.

I have enjoyed this version of the Nutcracker very much indeed. It seems to me to be every bit as enjoyable in its own way as the well-known Royal Ballet version by Peter Wright. It would therefore be a fine alternative or additional version to own and should give great pleasure to purchasers. In my opinion, it is certainly worthy of 5 stars.
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on 4 February 2012
This is the best "The Nutcracker" production so far. The masterpiece by the outstanding master of Russian and Soviet choreography Yuri Grigorovich, this production follows the story line of the old Christmas children's story by Hoffmann. This is the ballet and the libretto I am used to since I was a child is easy to follow and falls wonderfully on the famous Tchaikovsky music score. Filmed during the performance at the Bolshoi Theatre this ballet celebrates the comeback of the truly classic ballet, famous Russian technique and the genius of Yuri Grigorovich. I am afraid the glittery production of the Royal Ballet does not stand any comparison where the plot was completely revised and the dancing is not as powerful. The Russian Nutcracker is very elegant and eloquent. The filming is very sharp and brings you that perception of presence at the performance. The costumes and the set are true work of art and long-time collaboration between Grigorovich and Versaladze who staged several big productions at the Bolshoi. Watching this program you will appreciate all the praise which goes to the dancing company. Absolute must have and must see.
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on 23 December 2011
I now have three Blu-rays of the Nutcracker (Mariinsky and Covent Garden are the others), and it is hard to tell which is the best. This latest version is very traditional and very different to the equally good, but more Russian Mariinsky release, brilliantly performed and staged. The dancers almost defy gravity and the Prince and Drosselmeyer are quite exceptional. I found Masha in the Mariinsky very special too and the Covent Garden is a well rounded performance with Miyako Yoshida a wonderful Sugar Plum Fairy. Whichever you get you will enjoy and frankly I have no regrets about owning the lot. Only the San Francisco version failed to hit the right spot, too quirky for my taste. I do wish these Russians would give us more on Blu-ray, DVD is history after viewing this lot! A quite wonderful disc that can be viewed endlessly!
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on 4 April 2012
I have watched this disk several times and it is amazing. The 5-channel sound, the dancing and the set are all excellent. The performance was captured very well starting with the orchestra, then some wide angles to capture the movements of many dancers, or close enough to see facial expressions when appropriate.
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on 30 January 2012
Stage settings, production, dancing, costumes, orchestral performance all excellent. Picture and sound quality also first rate. I would rate the Royal Ballet performance more imaginative, and as good on all other fronts, but this is also a performance to treasure. Get both!
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on 13 January 2012
Two words, Bolshoi and Kaptsova and I did not think twice. Fell in love with her 'Phregya' in Spartacus.... I placed the order.

Neither did Kaptsova or the new crop of Bolshoi dancers disappoint even a bit. In fact, I think this one is a far more mature production insofar as the body language and the expressions are concerned than even the original production of this of 1966, choreographed and supervised by the great Grigorovich himself. This has no wooden pasty smiles and deadpan expressions typical of the Bolshoi of the 1960s right up to the 80s. In fact, I grew up with that particular choreography and presentation, and have seen it live on stage twice, and owned the video tape when it came out and subsequently the dvd as well.

So why have I not given 5 stars to this one? This is a comparison of the presentation as a whole and the storyline between the ROH (Peter Wright), American Ballet Theatre (Balanchine) and Bolshoi (Grigorovich). I am not even considering the 'other' Russian production (Mariyinsky) with Irina Golub in the title role, that would appeal to the 'little' students of psychiatry and panders more to the big daddies who come to watch the tights more than the ballet itself. There is another one like this conducted by Barenboim... which is even worse...

I own all the three blu rays, aside from 3 DVDs of the last decade.

Why I feel that the other two blu ray discs are better?

1. Wright did his research right and stuck to the storyline and what was visualized by Tchaikovsky, Ivanov and Petipa, and indeed closest to the original story by Hoffman. The music was written for this particular scenario and not the one conceived by Grigorovich.

2. The ABT production (Balanchine) employed two kids (that one of them was Macaulay Kulkin is irrelevant) to play clara and the prince. That worked well too, especially for the very junior audience that the ballet was originally composed for, with the storyline and presentation being quite competent.

3. Lack of a (the) Sugar Plum Fairy rankles in the Grigorovich version. No clowns as well...

4. Dance of the reed flutes is totally converted to stuff that drags (mirlions in this case)

5. The original Arabian Dance was converted to 'Indian' dance with costumes more akin to those in Thailand. The music definitely sounds closer to Arabia than either India or for that matter Thailand. This was at that time done more as a Political appeasement to India, which was getting quite close to the USSR. In fact, the original dancer of the 'Indian' (Arabian) dance was Xenia Rybankina, who became popular in India through her acting in a big Bollywood blockbuster of that time.

6. The costumes and lighting for the 'Dance of the Flowers' makes it look like the 'Dance of the Weeds'.

7. The sets and props are quite low-tech compared to what is possible with even this version.

8. The Nutcracker does not crack nuts, but is more of a rag-doll, which I admit, is rather cute, but still....

9. I wonder why the mouse king was not killed off in the first act, but what looks like was 'chased away' in the second. I miss the mime of the Nutcracker that relates the story of the battle to his subjects.

10.Last but not the Least, Drosselmayer in this version is reduced to almost a non-entity. It neither explains his presence or his importance to the story, nor does it do anything other than project him as an interfering wizard or at the worst a mean magician and whose presence is almost totally forgotten by the end of the first act and is more of a MoC in the second act.

The other two versions deal with these 'flaws' that I have rued in the Grigorovich production here over the years.


1. A fantastic new breed of Bolshoi dancers. Kapsova dazzles. In fact the whole production dazzles in their virtuoso dancing if I may term it so.

2. A big role with a lot of dancing given to Clara that comes out trumps, and Ovcharenko doesn't disappoint at all..

3. Excellent recording both audio and video-wise, with very nice close-ups of principals, soloists, and corps de ballet.

4. Beautifully performed and conducted music.

5. Waltz of the Snowflakes is just out of this world... probably Bolshoi and Grigorovich at their best...


I think a ballet enthusiast should own both the ROH as well as this Bolshoi production in the blu ray format. Both are different in terms of presentation as well as the whole approach to the production of this Ballet. The Bolshoi definitely and richly deserves the halo that comes along with their name, but if I were to choose between which one is the most satisfactory at the end of the day, I think I would go with the ROH blu ray with Iohna Loots, Gary Avis and the choreography and presentation of Barry Wright rather than Grigorovich. The one star less is a minus point deducted for the 10 reasons I have given. Amen.
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on 10 February 2013
I ordered this DVD for Christmas, unfortunately it didn't arrive on time so that was the down side. However, I really enjoyed the dancing and the sets. I have actually seen the Nutcracker on New year's Eve in the Bolshoi in Moscow so it brought back fond memories The DVD quality production leaves much to be desired. It constantly crackles and regularly makes a high pitched sound. I believe that the description alludes to this but by justifying it by power surges in this day and age?
Because of my memories I have given it 4 stars but as it arrived after I wanted it and the production quality of the DVD it only really deserves three stars.
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on 31 December 2011
A superb performance as would be expected from the Bolshoi, and excellent technical filming and sound recording.
The shots make good use of close ups and wider screen shots of the whole stage.
I wasn't sure which version of Nutcracker to buy for Christmas, and after reading all the reviews
I chose this version on bluray. I'm sure the other versions may also be excellent but surely do not surpass this.
I recommend it.
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on 25 July 2015
I eally enjoyed the first act which sparkled, especially with the snowflakes. The new choreography of Grigorovich, doing away with the Sugar Plum Fairy made the second act lose some of the ballets earlier momentum. Nina Kapsova was well cast as Clara.
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on 6 May 2013
This recording was not filmed with HD cameras and was touched up afterwards with the result that it is very pixelated.
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