The Wiener Staatsoper's ballet ensemble – the Wiener Staatsballett – is one of the great companies in the world. Yet never before had Rudolf Nureyev's world-famous choreography of the Nutcracker been performed in Vienna. The present production remedies this omission by presenting Nureyev's final, 1985 Paris version of the original 1967 choreography for the Royal Swedish Ballet with two magnificent young soloists and the splendid Vienna corps de ballet.
Nureyev's choreography of Tchaikovsky's immortal fairy tale has long since carved a niche in the performance history of this work. Revolutionary is the accent on the psychological contents of the work's underlying tale by E.T.A. Hoffmann. Freud hovers close by when young Clara projects her longings on her kind uncle, who is then transformed into a handsome prince in her dream.
Through Nureyev's psychological approach, many stereotyped characters are transformed into flesh-and-blood figures, and many details infuse the choreography with a wit and lightness that particularly delight children. The definitive 1985 version for the Paris Opera presented here is staged by Nureyev's pupil and protegé Manuel Legris of the Wiener Staatsballett. Legris spruces up the production with new costumes and roles for the youngest ballet pupils, and can count on the stupendous timing and perfection needed to master Nureyev's complex choreography.
The production truly deserves applause for the exceptional artistry of its two “outstanding” (Der Standard) solo dancers, the young Russians Liudmila Konovalova and Vladimir Shisov, both first solo dancers of the Wiener Staatsballett. “An impressive overall achievement”, writes Die Presse, “great soloists, endearing pupils, fantasy-inspiring costumes, a harmonious and sure-footed ensemble and a proficient orchestra...”