Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker and The Mouse King [Dutch National Ballet/van Schayk/Eagling] Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080i/60
- Audio Codec: PCM 2.0, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- Subtitles: English, French, German
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Rating: Not Rated
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: ArtHaus Musik
- Blu-ray Release Date: May 29, 2012
- List Price: $39.99
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In the nearly 125 years since Tchaikovsky’s ballet, The Nutcracker, first appeared, it has seen various adaptations for a wide range of audiences. This production entitled The Nutcracker and The Mouse King also stems from the E.T.A. Hoffmann fairy tale. The original dance sequences have been modified, although many of the favorite numbers remain in this reworking by choreographers Toer van Schayk and Wayne Ealing for this 2011 Dutch National Ballet company performance. The setting has been transferred to Amsterdam during Christmas Eve. Action begins in a house that is eventually transformed for the remaining scenes while there are skaters seen on the canal outside.
The videography presents a nice balance between the entire stage when the corps de ballet is out there to highlights of the solo and small group dancers. There is avoidance of shots so close that you can see the dancers sweat (no great loss in my opinion). Color palette is decent, doing service to some of the bright costumes worn by the cast. There is a trace of softness to the details but not to a worrisome degree.
Here was a small disappointment for me since there seemed to be a lack of punch from the orchestra. After all, Tchaikovsky wrote gorgeous ballet scores and this one really needs to get out there from the pit. I am not familiar with the acoustic of the house so that this may have been the best that the sound engineers could do, given the performance environment, but it was a bit of a let down, nonetheless. There is adequate ambience in the surround channels.
Arthaus Musik thankfully provides both cast interviews and backstage footage which I always find useful in supplementing the world of dance.
The Definitive Word
I admit to being a sucker for this beloved ballet. Having admitted this point, I was not so taken with the van Schayk and Ealing reworking of the choreography. The Nutcracker can withstand a number of different approaches but here I thought that there was lower excitement factor than in most of the other versions that I have seen. Nothing objectionable but nothing really exceptional either. This is a pity since the principal dancers, Anna Tsygankova and Matthew Golding, are outstanding artists both technically and emotionally. Compared to other renditions of this ballet, I thought the specialty numbers in Act II (the real highlights of this ballet), while good in their own right, lacked the elan of the original Petipa choreography and some of the other updated competitors. An enjoyable BD, but not my go to choice for this work which currently is the Opus Arte Royal Ballet version, a truly great watch.
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