what’s On Over christmas
Marvel at the Royal Ballet from the Royal Opera House – or your local cinema – this festive season
IF you ever have the chance, seize upon an invitation to spend an evening in the Royal
Box, with its private chamber and plush loo, at Covent Garden. Better still, do it just before Christmas and catch The Nutcracker, and pray for a backstage tour. The inevitable and tedious smutty jokes from your fellow pretenders about sitting on Her Majesty’s throne can be easily ignored, and one can wallow in the sheer sumptuous glory of the setting and marvel at the display of gracious athleticism – while getting slowly sozzled all the while. At the time, I was told it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it was truly unforgettable: from the Tardis-like caverns where the sets are wheeled around, to the rehearsal studios, to the exquisite models fashioned for each performance, the degree of coordination required rivals that of any pirouetting prima donna. I was then invited a second time, a fortnight later, played dumb and enjoyed it just as much, so feel unusually well-placed to recommend it. But there is, of course, much else on offer at the Royal Ballet beyond the joyous festive contrivance of the story of a young girl, her beastly brother and a host of dancing rats and fairies. And even if you’re not in the Royal Box, I’m guessing it will pass muster.
8-30 October: Mayerling
Kenneth Macmillan’s ballet about the apparent murder-suicide of Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria, and his lover, Baroness Mary Vetsera, in 1889, divided critics when first performed in 1978, but promises sex,
secrets and politics – all in tights.
1-17 november: la bayadere
This 19th-century classical ballet was originally choreographed by Marius Pepita and performed by the Bolshoi in 1877. Natalia Makarova’s redacted 1980 production was the first to find a niche in western ballet companies’ repertoires.
Temple dancers and noble warriors.
20-29 november: the Unknown Soldier/infra/symphony in c
A world premiere by Alastair Marriott of two contrasting ballets by Wayne Mcgregor and George Balanchine. Perhaps one for the
diehard ballet buff.
3 december-15 January:
Tchaikovsky’s Christmas classic will get you in the festive spirit faster than a sweet sherry on Santa’s lap; some performances will feature Argentine Royal Ballet principal Marianela Nuñez. When it was screened in cinemas last year, 145,000 people watched. O’hare says that it remains absorbing: “The traditional classics always have something
fresh to offer through the individual interpretations of the dancers, which is
what makes live theatre so exciting.”
In case you’ve gone full Scrooge, there’s the annual Christmas Carols Singalong in the magnificent Paul Hamlyn Hall to get you in the festive spirit. Mulled wine, mince pies and perhaps the only opportunity most of us
will ever have to sing at the ROH.
18 december-4 January: les patineurs/winter dreams/
This seasonal trio of one-act ballets by Frederick Ashton, Kenneth Macmillan and Jerome Robbins respectively, will be “joyous then intense, serious then comically absurd”.
For details of the ROH’S upcoming Live Cinema Season – and to find a cinema near you streaming the performances – go to: