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Customer Review

HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 10 September 2013
Prequel:
This disc was issued not long ago at more than twice the price. My well received review for that release is copy/pasted below. Many may find it even more tempting at the lower price now being asked.

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Previous release's review

This version of the Nutcracker Ballet by Wayne Eagling and Toer van Schayk was created as long ago as 1996 and has been a popular and regular part of the Dutch Ballet repertoire ever since. It differs from the Petipa based versions in several ways as described in some detail below and which may or may not be a problem for non-Dutch purchasers.

The setting is placed in Amsterdam in 1810 rather than a small German town. The time of the action is on the eve of St. Nicholas rather than Christmas Eve. This is because there was no tradition of giving Christmas presents in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 19th century. Neither of these changes seems to me to require very much adjustment on the part of the viewer - just a little flexibility, even though the use of ice skates for some of the initial dancing outside Clara's house may come as more of a surprise! It reminded me of my eldest daughter's experience of living in Holland several years ago where temporary outdoors skating rinks were a regular feature of Dutch winter life.

More importantly there are major changes to the 2nd act where, instead of being set in the Kingdom of Sweets, Clara dreams that she has been transported to a land through a magical lantern where people from Clara's life and the 1st act party reappear. These also arrive through the magic lantern lens which forms a central part of the backdrop scenery. The travellers include the Mouse King whose curse, when killed by the Nutcracker doll, is cancelled thus enabling the Nutcracker doll to return to its former role as a Prince. The result of these changes is a much closer story link between the two acts but at the expense of the more familiar character dances. Instead, the same musical sequence is used for alternative character dances with quite different choreography and which I personally enjoyed very much. The concept of these significant changes is significant and will be a major factor for future purchasers to consider.

The scenery settings are sumptuous apart from the correctly conceived and somewhat austere setting of Clara's own home which is contrasted with the party setting of act 1 and the magical setting of act 2. To my eyes it all seems totally acceptable for Amsterdam in 1810 and also visually attractive. The same can be said of the costumes throughout. The dancing as performed by Anna Tsygankova as Clara, Matthew Golding as the Prince and James Stout as the Nutcracker is expertly done and the choreography is both interesting and delightful in my opinion. The corps de ballet are of the same high standard as are all the other highlighted members of the cast such as the Mouse King, his entourage and the various party guests and family members.

The music is well played by the orchestra under the baton of Ermanno Florio and this is well presented in clear, full sound in both DTS-HD 5.1 and stereo. The imaging is crisp and precise without any evidence of movement blur. The camera work provides a satisfying balance of close detail and more panoramic views.

There is a 27 minute bonus feature which focuses on interviews with the choreographers, the dancers and provides plenty of backstage footage. This is an interesting bonus and is well done as an illuminating addition to the performance of this production.

This is a very enjoyable production indeed. It offers a refreshing experience to be enjoyed as an equally satisfying alternative to the more traditional Petipa-based versions or the Peter Wright Royal Ballet version for example. Much will depend on individual purchaser's responses to the overall concepts of the Dutch setting and the use of a magic lantern as a sort of time machine to link the two acts together into more of a continuous story line and as described above.

Provided that this necessary flexibility to the production can be achieved I would suggest that this is a very worthwhile and enjoyable experience and would expect it to give much pleasure to many future purchasers.
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Product Details

4.9 out of 5 stars
12
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