The Nutcracker Premiere
Music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Choreographer: Nacho Duato
Musical Director and Conductor: Pavel Bubelnikov
Musical Director’s Assistant: Alexey Nyaga
Stage Designer: Jérôme Kaplan
Lighting Design: Brad Fields
Choreographer’s Assistants: Tony Fabre, Gentian Doda
The Mouse King will die in the first act
Nacho Duato is concluding his ‘Russian Seasons’ with a performance of The Nutcracker. The name of the most popular ballet is on the playbill of the Mikhailovsky Theatre for mid-December, on the eve of the Christmas and New Year holidays.
The choreographer spends entire days in the rehearsal halls and is not inclined to give interviews. Nonetheless, he graciously agreed to answer a few questions, offering his answers with a sincere smile and even a chuckle.
Nacho, will The Nutcracker be similar to The Sleeping Beauty?
— No, they will be very different of course. After all, the plots are very different. And if we are talking about Marius Petipa’s version of The Sleeping Beauty, it is perhaps his most academic ballet. It contains a great amount of difficult choreography and demands exquisite technique. On the other hand, it seems to me that The Nutcracker contains more straightforward dance, which comes from the soul, from some sort of internal feeling.
Will you offer you own interpretation of this fairytale? Add something of you own?
— No, I dislike it when this kind of thing is done. I left the plot unaltered, with the exception of shortening certain segments. For example, I do not understand why the Mouse King is wounded at the end of the first act, but he is still alive in the second. Why is this necessary? In my production he will die in the first act. These rats are featured in almost all ballets! We will do without them, and begin the second act with the Spanish Dance.
Is this because you are Spanish? Do you feel that you have picked up some Russian personality traits?
— I do not even think that there is much Spanish in me. I do not even look that much like a Spaniard. I feel Mediterranean hedonism, a love of scents, warmth, beauty, and antiquity. On the other hand, while working in Northern Europe I picked up some Protestant traits such as Calvinist punctuality, practicality, and a serious attitude towards work. I think this is a good combination.
Do you plan to stage any classics in Berlin?
— Of course! I want to stage The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty there. However, I will probably not stage anything new.
Believe the extraordinary
According to a famous Russian proverb, «it’s the retinue that makes the king». The same applies to the new production of The Nutcracker: in order for the audience to believe the extraordinary story of the transformation of the wooden nutcracker doll into a beautiful prince, and to be transported with him and his heroine Masha (Clara) to a fairytale land, it is crucial that the characters who evolve alongside the story’s protagonists are equally compelling and unpredictable. The charm and atmosphere of a ballet is a product of its many characters. Dancers performing some of the supporting, but nevertheless crucial, parts in the new production have agreed to tell us about their roles.
Stage Designer Jérôme Kaplan
Jerome Kaplan: “My most interesting offers have come from the world of dance”
The celebrated French set designer Jerome Kaplan is joining Nacho Duato to work on a new production of The Nutcracker. A true Parisian, he brings a ‘family nostalgia’ for Russian culture to his sets and costumes for ballet.
Text and images courtesy of Mikhailovsky Theatre.