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The great tradition of Russian ballet
Teatro Regio, Friday 11 December 2009 at 8 pm
On Friday 11 December the long-awaited event of The Nutcracker, the ballet with music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky on the libretto by Marius Petipa, based on the short story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E. T. A. Hoffmann, will open. Starring at the Regio will be the Vaganova Ballet Academy of St. Petersburg which will present, for fourteen performances through 23 December, the 1934 choreography by Vasilij Vajnonen, revived by Altynaj Asylmuratova, the academy’s director.
This will be the only Italian engagement for the historic ballet school of St. Petersburg – founded officially in 1738 at the request of Empress Anna Johannovna as the Imperial Theatrical Institute – which, in its nearly 300 year history, has formed the best dancers in the world: Anna Pavlova, Vaclav Nižinskij, Rudolf Nureyev, Natalija Makarova, Michail Baryshnikov and Agrippina Vaganova, who was director and to whom, in 1957, the school was dedicated. Today it is directed by the former star of the Mariinsky Theatre Altynaj Asylmuratova. The same Mariinsky Theatre, with its Kirov Ballet, counts among its ranks the greatest number of Academy graduates. The Torino performances, therefore, provide a magnificent occasion for seeing ballet stars of the future.
The story of The Nutcracker, set at the beginning of the nineteenth century, takes place on Christmas Eve, when Drosselmeyer, an eccentric toy maker, much-loved by children, is invited to Herr Stahlbaum’s home to see the great Christmas tree. There is a succession of games and dances, during which the imaginative Drosselmeyer also organizes a puppet show in which the Mouse King intends to kidnap the Princess, but the brave Nutcracker kills him and saves the Princess, thus becoming little Masha’s favourite toy. In a dream, Herr Stahlbaum’s daughter imagines the drawing room invaded by mice led by their king, but the Nutcracker leads a regiment of tin soldiers in an attack, and Masha, overcoming her fear, follows and saves him by throwing a slipper at the Mouse King, who, defeated, disappears with his army. Drosselmeyer then transforms the Nutcracker and Masha into a Prince and Princess and the act concludes with the marvellous Waltz of the Snowflakes. The dream continues in the last part of the ballet, and the moment of festivities arrives with Masha and the Nutcracker taking part. There is a series of spirited dances - Spanish, oriental, Chinese, Russian (trepak) and a Pas de Trois – which ends when the young protagonist wakes up.
There have been countless versions – and innumerable interpretations – of the ballet staged by great choreographers up to now. The success of The Nutcracker has been undoubtedly helped by Tchaikovsky’s music – just consider the popularity of the Suite – that reveals an inexhaustible fantasy in evoking the magical and enchanted atmosphere associated with dreams and childhood.
The Orchestra of the Teatro Regio will be conducted for the occasion by Maestro Aleksandr Vikulov, and Chorus Master of the Children’s Chorus of the Teatro Regio and the “G. Verdi” conservatory will be Claudio Fenoglio. The staging is by the Mariinsky Theatre of St. Petersburg, with sets by Simon Virsaladze and costumes by Tat’jana Noginova and Irina Korovina.
The Nutcracker will be presented to the public by Sergio Trombetta in the get-together to take place at the Piccolo Regio Puccini on Wednesday 9 December at 5.30 pm.
On the occasion of the first performance of The Nutracker, a photographic exhibition by Sarah Moon will be inaugurated in the foyer “del Toro”: twelve photographs from the book Teatro Regio di Torino, published by Contrasto/Delpire/Agarttha Arte and edited by Adele Re Rebaudengo. The book and exhibition have been realised with the support of: Regione Piemonte, Compagnia di San Paolo, Fondazione CRT, UniCredit Group and Bentley S.O.A. S.p.A.
The exhibition can be visited during all of the performances of The Nutcracker (11 - 23 December) and on the occasion of other events taking place in the Theatre through 31 December.
Torino, 20 November 2009
Head of the Press Office