Cultural institutions can become quickly established. A full Nutcracker wasn’t shown in England until 1934, and in America until 1944. Now, in traditional stagings, with swathes of snow, tutus, Chrsitmas trees and rats and that forever fey Sugar Plum Fairy, it has become integrated into the experience of Christmas for many. (Let’s leave aside any comment on commercialisation of the same!)
A double dose of Ashton, two pieces more in opposition in tone and character couldn’t really be programmed. The program itself underscores Ashton’s individual talent and innovations – and his ardency for tradition.
Nods to early 20th century Japan look instead like twee japonisme. (There’s a fine line between accuracy and stereotype). Seen in light of Opera Australia‘s more modern-day production, which I could not help recalling, this production seems in all ways a little stiff. Taking place as it does in this austere space, with the backwall made up of a huge shoji screen and a bare floor, it is up to Kristine Opolais to light up the evening.