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Sunday, 05 April 2020

Cairo Opera invokes Christmas spirit with the Nutcracker

For 25 years now, The Nutcracker has been among the annual highlights of the Cairo Opera Ballet Company, while its story, captivating music and choreography attract whole families to the opera's main hall

Ati Metwaly , Wednesday 25 Dec 2019
The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker performed at the Cairo Opera House's main hall, by the Cairo Opera Ballet Company (Photo: courtesy of the Cairo Opera House)
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The magic begins with the clock striking midnight...

A little girl named Clara receives a mechanical doll for Christmas. When the midnight comes, Clara is transported to an imaginary world where she witnesses the battle between the King of Mice and the Nutcracker. When the Nutcracker wins, turning into a prince, he takes Clara on a journey to the Land of Snow and the Land of Sweets, inviting her to a variety of dances.

Every year in December, the Cairo Opera Ballet Company performs the Nutcracker ballet at the Cairo Opera House Main Hall. This year, the ballet will be staged on five consecutive evenings, between 25 and 29 December.

Based on the story The Nutcracker and the King of Mice by E.T.A. Hoffman, the ballet diverts a little from Hoffman’s text (as Pepita, choreographer, used Dumas' revised version of The Nutcracker), the basic plot line remains the same. We meet Clara, the Nutcracker Prince and a Mouse King with seven heads in the middle of wonderful choreography and family performance. 

The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker performed at the Cairo Opera House's main hall, by the Cairo Opera Ballet Company (Photo: courtesy of the Cairo Opera House)

Since the Nutcracker's story begins on Christmas Eve, all around the world it is usually performed around Christmas time.

For the Cairo Opera Ballet Company, the ballet became one of its staple repertoire's elements, saught after by audience that is often filling the opera's hall to the brim. No wonder, as apart of the magical feel of the story, the 1892 two-act ballet is filled with captivating melodies and dances. 

One of the most famous compositions by  Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the popular includes Waltz of the Flowers, the sweet Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, the famed March from the first act, the Danse of the Mrlitons (Act II), alongside a selection of unique dances: Arab, Spanish, Chinese, Russian. Numerous of Tchaikovsky's melodies from The Nutcracker have been used in films and television commercials becomming a daily music for the audience even if one is not aware of that fact.

Of course nothing compares with The Nutcracker being staged with the dancers and the orchestra delivering Tchaikovsky's score.

The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker performed at the Cairo Opera House's main hall, by the Cairo Opera Ballet Company (Photo: courtesy of the Cairo Opera House)

For 25 years now, the Nutcracker enchants the Cairo's opera goers providing a valuable ballet standard but also reminding us of a unique history that The Nutcracker holds in Egypt.

As much as The Nutcracker is a lovely story embedded in beautiful choreography, it is one of the rather challenging works for any ballet troupe. This fact adds additional glimmer to the magical story, one we realise that the ballet was among the first work performed by the Cairo Opera Ballet Company as it premiered in 1993, just a few years after the company was adopted by the new opera, a building that opened its doors in 1988. It's worth adding that prior to the troupe being taken under the opera wings, it was linked to the Academy of Arts and carrying the name of the Cairo Ballet Company.

While working on The Nutcracker, the late ballet dancer, choreographer and the company's creator Abdel Moneim-Kamel provided his creative touches to the iconic work and enriching the characters. It is this version that continues to be performed throughout the years incorporating creative ideas and a few choreography segments by Abdel Moneim-Kamel into the known choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov Pepita.

The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker performed at the Cairo Opera House's main hall, by the Cairo Opera Ballet Company (Photo: courtesy of the Cairo Opera House)

Upon it's premiere at the Cairo Opera, the role of Clara was danced by Erminia Kamel, while Lamia Mohamed danced Clara the young girl. Today, the Artistic Director of the troupe and an artists who continues to carry her late husband, Abdel-Moneim Kamel's legacy, The Nutcracker remains on top of her priorities for the Cairo Opera Ballet Company. 

The Nutcracker's performances have been dully repeated on annual basis, each time featuring the dancers who grew artistically and with time, have been replaced by the younger stars of the troupe.

In this year's performance of The Nutcracker, as usual, the Cairo Opera Ballet Company is joined by the Cairo Opera Orchestra, delivering a memorable Christmas-inspired evening for the whole family.

The performances take place daily, on 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29 December, at 8pm, at the Cairo Opera's main hall.

The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker performed at the Cairo Opera House's main hall, by the Cairo Opera Ballet Company (Photo: courtesy of the Cairo Opera House)

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