Krzysztof Penderecki

Krzysztof Penderecki
Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-2020) conducting his oratorio "Seven Gates of Jerusalem" at the Winter Palace, St Petersburg, in 2001. Photo by Dmitry Lovetsky

Friday, January 13, 2017

Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! (2002) – Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Etta Murfitt, Alan Vincent, Saranne Curtin, Ewan Wardrop, Emily Piercy, Scott Ambler – New Adventures Dance Company, Matthew Bourne, Ross MacGibbon – Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, Brett Morris (HD 1080p)

Matthew Bourne's stunning production of Nutcracker! has broken all box office records during its season at Sadler's Wells and subsequent national tour.

This delicious production is full of his trademark style wit, pathos and theatrical magic. Nutcracker! follows Clara's journey from a bleak Christmas Eve at Dr. Dross' Orphanage, through a shimmering wonderland to the spectacular candy folk of Sweetieland.

Tchaikovsky's much-loved score and Olivier award winning designer Anthony Ward's stunning sets and costumes with sizzling choreography. Promising a fresh serving of the traditional Christmas far, Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! is a delightful feast for all of the family.

Matthew Bourne has achieved worldwide artistic and popular success with his imaginative new versions of classical ballets such as Swan Lake, Cinderella & The Car Man.


Ο «Καρυοθραύστης» είναι το τρίτο και τελευταίο μπαλέτο που έγραψε προς το τέλος της ζωής του ο Πιότρ Ιλίτς Τσαϊκόφσκι. Η πρεμιέρα έγινε στις 18 Δεκεμβρίου 1892, στο Θέατρο Μαριίνσκι της Αγίας Πετρούπολης. Το έργο είναι βασισμένο στη διασκευή που έκανε ο Αλέξανδρος Δουμάς στο παραμύθι του Ε. Τ. Α. Χόφμαν «Ο Καρυοθραύστης και ο βασιλιάς των ποντικιών», το οποίο αναφέρεται σε ένα παιδικό χριστουγεννιάτικο πάρτι.

Ο «Καρυοθραύστης» του Μάθιου Μπερν παρουσιάστηκε για πρώτη φορά στην Opera North, στην αγγλική πόλη Ληντς, το 1992. Στη συνέχεια, το μπαλέτο ανέβηκε σε ένα από τα κορυφαία θέατρα χορού στον κόσμο, στο Sadler's Wells στο Λονδίνο, όπου σημείωσε τεράστια επιτυχία. Έκτοτε, το έργο δεν έχει σταματήσει να παίζεται στη Μεγάλη Βρετανία.

Ο «Καρυοθραύστης» του Μπερν διατηρεί τα βασικά στοιχεία και τα κύρια θέματα του μπαλέτου του Τσαϊκόφσκι. Στο νέο σενάριο των Μάθιου Μπερν, Μάρτιν Ντόνγκεν και Άντονι Γουόρντ, η δράση του έργου μεταφέρεται – στο πρώτο μέρος – στο ορφανοτροφείο του δόκτορος Ντρος, μια παραμονή Χριστουγέννων, όπου η ζοφερή ατμόσφαιρα θυμίζει τα έργα του Τσαρλς Ντίκενς, και κατόπιν – στο δεύτερο μέρος – σ' έναν αστραφτερό κόσμο θαυμάτων, τη Sweetieland. Ο «Καρυοθραύστης» του Μπερν είναι μια ιστορία ενηλικίωσης, άλλοτε σκληρή και άλλοτε γεμάτη τρυφερότητα, άλλοτε γκρίζα και άλλοτε πολύχρωμη. Στον «Καρυοθραύστη» του, ο Μπερν καταφέρνει κάτι μοναδικό: ενώ συνεπαίρνει το παιδικό κοινό, την ίδια στιγμή κλείνει πονηρά το μάτι στους ενήλικες θεατές.

Η παράσταση την οποία παρακολουθούμε εδώ, κινηματογραφήθηκε από τον Ross MacGibbon στο Θέατρο Sadler's Wells το 2002 και κυκλοφόρησε σε DVD από την κινηματογραφική εταιρεία Kultur Video το 2003.

Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker!

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

♪ The Nutcracker, Op.71 (1982)

Etta Murfitt..........Clara
Alan Vincent..........Nutcracker
Saranne Curtin..........Sugar / Princess Sugar
Ewan Wardrop..........Fritz / Prince Bon Bon
Emily Piercy..........Matron / Queen Candy
Scott Ambler..........Dr. Dross / King Sherbert
Ross Carpenter..........Orphanage Governor / Humbug
Arthur Pita..........Knickerbocker Glory
Philip Willingdon, Isabel Mortimer, Kerry Biggin..........Orphanage Governors
Valentina Formenti, Neil Penlington..........Cupids
Vicky Evans, Richard Winsor, Paulo Kadow..........Liquorice Allsorts
Rachel Lancaster, Belinda Lee Chapman, Michela Meazza,
Shelby Williams, Mami Tomotani..........Marshmallows
Lee Smikle, Adam Galbraith, James Leece..........Gobstoppers

New Adventures Dance Company

Director and Choreographer / Θεατρική σκηνοθεσία και χορογραφία: Matthew Bourne
Original Scenario / Πρωτότυπο σενάριο: Matthew Bourne, Martin Duncan, Anthony Ward
Set and Costumes Disigned by / Σκηνικά και κοστούμια: Anthony Ward
Lighting Designer / Διεύθυνση φωτισμού: Howard Harrison
Sound Designer / Διεύθυνση ήχου: Paul Groothuis

Music by / Μουσική: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra
Conductor: Brett Morris

Directed for Screen by / Σκηνοθεσία βίντεο: Ross MacGibbon

Sadler's Wells, London, 2002

Kultur Video 2003

(HD 1080p)

Uploaded on Youtube for the Blog "Faces of Classical Music"

First publication: January 13, 2017 – Last update: December 4, 2017

Nutcracker! is a dance in two acts, and it begins on Christmas Eve at Dr. Dross' Orphanage, through a shimmering ice-skating wonderland to the spectacular candy folk of Sweetieland.

Act I

It begins on Christmas Eve at Dr. Dross' Orphanage. Dr. Dross and Matron are preparing for a visit from the Governors of the Orphanage, decorations are put up, the orphans are each given a party hat and the visitors' hand out gifts. Fritz and Sugar, the children of Dr. Dross and Matron try to steal the toys they want from the orphans. Clara gets a male toy soldier, she dances with him and plays with Nutcracker, a boy she is in love with. When the visitors leave Dr. Dross and Matron take down all the decorations and lock away all the toys, including Clara's much-loved toy soldier.

The orphans go to bed but Clara cannot sleep. Sugar enters and opens the locked cupboard, standing there is the toy soldier, only now he is alive and the size of a real-life man. Sugar screams and runs out, the orphans are scared of him but they realise that he is there to help them. The room starts to crack open, and a large Christmas tree rises up outside the Orphanage. Matron, Dr. Dross, Fritz and Sugar run in to see what the commotion is, the orphans turn on them, tie them up and run away.

Clara is left alone when the soldier appears, he removes his mask and they dance together whilst behind them the walls melt away and a beautiful sparkling frozen lake is revealed. Clara and the Nutcracker skate happily with the orphans in this winter wonderland until Princess Sugar and Prince Bon-Bon arrive. Prince Bon-Bon throws a snowball at Nutcracker and when he comes around Princess Sugar takes him away.

The snow starts to fall and Clara is alone.

Act II

Clara is as we left her, alone and not sure what to do or which way to go. Her friends, the twins from the Orphanage are now Cupids and they arrive to help her find her way. They take her to the entrance of Sweetieland where she sees the Nutcracker and Princess Sugar walk into the tasty land of sweets accompanied by Queen Candy and King Sherbet. Clara tries to follow them but she doesn't have a ticket, the Humbug bouncer refuses her entry.

Clara watches the Dance of the Liquorice Allsorts, the Dance of the Knickerbocker Glory, the Dance of the Marshmallows and finally the Dance of the Gobstoppers. As the Gobstoppers start fighting with each other the bouncer is distracted and Clara uses this opportunity to sneak inside.

Inside Sweetieland Princess Sugar is getting ready with the 5 marshmallow girls. She joins the Nutcracker and the King and Queen reveal a giant wedding cake adorned by the characters Clara met earlier. They eat, lick and devour the cake. The crowds disperse and Princess Sugar and the Nutcracker dance together. The characters of Sweetieland dance and the snow starts falling, suddenly Clara is dancing with the Nutcracker. As the snow falls faster everyone disappears until Clara is left alone holding her toy soldier. She throws him aside in frustration and curls up on the floor. When she awakes she is back in the Orphanage, the boy Nutcracker embraces her and together they escape out of the Orphanage window.

The Nutcracker

Adaptation and Interpretation

Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! was first created for Opera North in 1992 and whilst retaining key elements and main themes of Tchaikovsky's ballet the bleak beginning of Act I is a nod to the original story by Hoffman. Matthew Bourne created this new scenario with Martin Duncan to rework the traditional Christmas story.

Bourne explains: "This version of the Nutcracker story is a touching coming of age story told through the dreams, and nightmares, of a particular young girl, Clara. The classical Nutcracker has become a Christmas tradition, particularly for Mothers and their young daughters; it's often the first ballet that many people see. It can though, be a difficult story to follow and a bore for the men of the family. I've tried to tell a story for all the family. Adults, kids, girls and boys should all find something to thrill them and touch them in Clara's adventure".


Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! takes place in an awful Dickensian Orphanage at Christmas time. It is Christmas Eve and the orphans are preparing for the annual visit of the Institute's Governors. Once the visitors leave the decorations are torn down and things return to a bleak existence.

Bourne says: "I have always felt that the Christmas Party that opens most productions of Nutcracker represented a fantasy in itself for most audiences. Therefore, when we are transported into Clara's fantasy world we have really just gone from one idyllic fantasy to another. Martin Duncan and I had an instinct that we would feel the transformation that much more if the Christmas Party that begins the piece was less opulent and more bittersweet. We came up with the notion of a Dickensian Orphanage where Clara is one of the orphans".

Key Themes

First Love

In all versions of The Nutcracker Clara falls in love. In Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! Clara has a crush on the boy Nutcracker. Some of the orphans make fun of her. When she is given her toy the Nutcracker soldier she is distraught when he is locked away and tries to get him out. When the cupboard doors fly open her Nutcracker is now a full-size puppet. He helps the orphans escape and when Clara is left alone he reveals himself to be a human young man. They travel together to the Frozen Lake but it is here that Princess Sugar wants him for herself. Clara follows them to Sweetieland and is accompanied by her two friends the twins who are now cupids and after many failed attempts Clara and her Nutcracker are finally reunited back in the Orphanage where they escape together.

Growing Up

Clara is forced to fend for herself after she has been deserted by Nutcracker, she is befriended by the two cupids who guide her but it is only she who can make things actually happen.


Clara leaves the safety of the Orphanage and visits two different worlds, the Frozen Lake and Sweetieland. She meets characters she could only dream of.


The magical worlds in the Nutcracker have sometimes been portrayed as dreams and sometimes we are led to believe it may well have been a reality. This is certainly the case for Hoffman's original story. In Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! Clara dreams about a world a million miles away from her home at the Orphanage.

The Frozen Lake


The music is written by Tchaikovsky and belongs to the Romantic period. The most recognisable pieces of music from Tchaikovsky's ballet is the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Trepak (Russian dance) and The Waltz of the Flowers.

The ballet contains some very advanced harmonies and a wealth of melodic invention that had not been seen in ballet music before. Influences of late 18th century music can be heard in the Overture, the Entrée des parents and Tempo di Grossvater all in Act I.

Tchaikovsky used the celesta in the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. The sound of the celesta is similar to that of the glockenspiel but which a much softer timbre. This informed the instruments name, celeste meaning ‘heavenly’ in French.

He also uses toy instruments during the Christmas Party scene.

Tchaikovsky's score is extremely engaging and the music tells amazing stories with wonderful melodies.

Princess Sugar and the Marshmallow girls

Production Elements


The designer, Anthony Ward worked with Matthew Bourne to create two contrasting worlds. The first world is Christmas Eve in an Orphanage and the second world is one of dreams and fantasy.

The production opens in a dilapidated Orphanage, it is a large grey room with an imposing clock that watches every move that the orphans make. It is unwelcoming with cracking plaster on every wall. The misshapen furniture looms over the orphans as they dance and clean the nooks and crannies. When the Nutcracker comes to life the room starts to crack, the walls begin to split open, and the Christmas tree from the earlier celebration grows to an enormous height. The orphans then escape through the cracks to another world.

The next world we enter is a magical frozen lake where the Snowflakes scene from the traditional Nutcracker becomes an ice-skating extravaganza. From here Act II opens in Sweetieland, where the backdrop is now a glitter-lipped mouth, providing the entrance to Sweetieland itself. The highlight of Act II is the wedding cake upon which all the characters dance and eat, slurp and lick the cake whilst dancing upon and around each of the three-tiers.

It is an entirely fantastical set and one that conjures up images of candy-canes and Christmas sugar delights.



From the grey smocks and shorts of the orphanage to the all-white ice-skating attire, the costumes enhance every moment of the story.

In Sweetieland the costumes are extremely important as this informs the audience of what sweetie each dancer represents.


Lighting and colour play a significant role in expressing the different worlds, indicating a change of world similar to the use of black and white and colour in The Wizard of Oz.


Sound helps to create the atmosphere of the production. In particular additional sound effects are used when the orphans receive their toys. When Fritz plays with his toy gun additional sound effects are used to create a bigger sound and more dramatic effect.

Clara and the nutcracker boys


The characters in Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! are all much larger than life in both worlds and every character is unique, even the orphans in their grey smocks and shorts.

Bourne says: "One of the pleasures of creating these characters was to link them with their orphanage counterparts. In Clara's imagination her friends become the fluffy Marshmallow girls, the yobby Gobstopper boys, the vain Liquorice Allsort trio and the lewd and sticky Knickerbocker Glory. Her best friends, the twins, become her heavenly helpers, the Cupids. Dr. and Mrs Dross transform into the gluttonous rulers of Sweetieland, King Sherbet and Queen Candy, and their bratish children, Sugar and Fritz, grow up into the glamorous Princess Sugar and saucy Prince Bon Bon. Everything is edible in Sweetieland and its inhabitants are judged not by how they look but by how they taste".

The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker full-size puppet is an interesting and challenging character to portray because of his strong physicality. His movements are stilted, his gaze fixed and his joints are stiff.

The Gobstoppers

This trio of boys come on stage wearing doc martens and crash helmets. Their outfits enhance their actions and movements.

All texts and photos: DVD Booklet

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