It wouldn't be a Year of Enchantment without Peter Wright's picture-perfect production of The Nutcracker rounding off the season. Here are five of the reasons why you should join Clara on her journey to magical lands.
You don't have to be five years old, or even to have The Nutcracker hardwired into your childhood memories, to feel wide-eyed with awe and delight as the Christmas tree grows to the height of the ceiling, the walls melt away and toys come to life. Put the cares of the modern world aside for a couple of hours and reconnect with your sense of wonder.Benedicte Bemet and artists of The Australian Ballet. Photography Jeff Busby
It's the last of Tchaikovsky's three great ballet scores, and some would argue his most charming. The story speaks through the staves: the whirling of the wind in the Waltz of the Snowflakes, the plinking of a fountain in the Sugar Plum Fairy's variation, the sensual abandonment of the Coffee variation - each are vividly evoked by Tchaikovsky's masterful use of orchestral colour.Laura Tong and artists of The Australian Ballet. Photography Jeff Busby
THE ULTIMATE TRADITIONAL VERSION
When it comes to traditional versions of The Nutcracker, none is more perfect in each detail than this Peter Wright gem. Every element of the spell, from the Christmas party to the slightly sinister Drosselmeyer to the fight with the Rat King to the wondrous Land of Sweets, is beautifully realised in this beloved production. As London's Independent critic puts it, "its marvels are properly marvellous".Laura Tong and artists of The Australian Ballet. Photography Lynette Wills
John F Macfarlane's design for The Nutcracker is part Edwardian extravaganza (with fabrics and trims meticulously sourced for authenticity) and part fabulous fantasy, as befits the exotic realms of Clara's dream. The Sugar Plum Fairy's tutu is a sublime
concoction of layered pink and cream tulle, adorned with hand-painted and hand-embroidered plums.
A FEAST OF PURE DANCE
In the second act of The Nutcracker, the story melts away and we are treated to a smorgasbord of balletic morsels: the delicate Mirlitons, the elastic langour of Arabian Coffee, the ebullient Rose Fairy, the dashing Spanish Chocolate ... and, of course, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Prince. With each variation lovingly coloured by music and costume, it's a feast for all the senses.Madeleine Eastoe and Kevin Jackson. Photography Jeff Busby / Ako Kondo. Photography Lynette Wills