“Already on this Friday the Prince shall find his Marie”, - said Gennady Zhukovsky, performer of the roles of Prince and the Nutcracker in the newest production of “The Nutcracker” that shall be unveiled on 21, 22 and 23 November at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre. This new version of the legendary ballet is choreographed by Krzysztof Pastor. Other members of the creative team include music director and conductor Martynas Staškus, and designer Vyacheslav Okunev (Russia).
During the press conference dedicated to the new premiere, LNOBT’s artistic director of ballet Krzysztof Pastor revealed that an opportunity to create a ballet for the whole family brought him a great deal of happiness. “I’ve created many contemporary ballets, productions for the adult part of the audience. I’m so glad that the general manager of the LNOBT Gintautas Kėvišas presented me with an opportunity of producing “The Nutcracker” – a cosy, warm ballet that is suitable for the entire family. I can still remember how at a very young age I couldn’t stop listening to the “Flower Waltz” – I was completely enchanted by this wonderful music.”
Speaking of the differences between the new production and older versions, K. Pastor claims he turned towards the fairy tale by E. T. A. Hoffmann and adapted the libretto to fit its mood. Moreover, he created certain subtle references to the city of Vilnius in the 19th century. “I love this city very much, it is so beautiful and so much like a fairy tale”. The biggest and the most obvious change in the libretto is that we shall see the Mouse Queen instead of the Mouse King – such decision was influenced by the fact that LNOBT’s ballet company contains some fantastic leading female soloists, such as Olga Konošenko who also participated in the conference. K. Pastor praised the work of the entire company and especially the leading soloists – such as Kristina Gudžiūnaitė (Marie) and G. Zhukovsky.
In turn, the soloists mentioned that the choreography, although based on the classical background, is quite new, and mastering it means a step forward in one’s dancing skill. O. Konošenko also mentioned that the Mouse Queen “arrived” to this production directly from the fairy tale by E. T. A. Hoffmann.
To the music director of “The Nutcracker” Martynas Staškus, the new premiere is the second production of this work. “This ballet is especially dear to me. In 1996 the production by Andrei Melanjin became the first ballet that I prepared myself. Since then, I’ve conducted more than 140 performances of “The Nutcracker”. By the way, the present production marks my fourth collaboration with Mr. Pastor, and fifth with Mr. Okunev.” According to the conductor, the score written by P. Tchaikovsky is well-known to the orchestra, and yet, the musicians still have to adapt to the new choreography and pattern of movement.
Designer V. Okunev, set and costume designer for the new “The Nutcracker”, has already presented his work in seven productions of the LNOBT (ballets “The Red Giselle”, “Russian Hamlet”, “Swan Lake”, “The Sleeping Beauty”, “La Bayadere”, “The Blue Danube”, opera “Don Giovanni”), but it is his first collaboration with K. Pastor: “we immediately began speaking in the same language. I love the idea of shifting the place of action, as if with the help of a time machine, to the city of Vilnius at the end of the 19th century. Also, there was a great opportunity of exploring the concept of theatre within theatre – after all, theatre stage is a place where the magic happens”. According to the new libretto, Marie is dreaming of becoming a ballerina, and the magical puppet theatre of uncle Drosselmeyer turns into a real theatre on Christmas Eve.
There are three casts of dancers who shall perform the principle roles, however, some roles are prepared by five soloists. According to K. Pastor, such decision was made due to the reason that there shall be seventeen performances of “The Nutcracker”, and other ballets of the repertoire will also have to be performed. And, it is very important to reveal the creative potential of the entire ballet company. The principal roles are created by: Marie – K. Gudžiūnaitė, Inga Cibulskytė, Anastasija Čumakova, Grytė Dirmaitė, Haruka Ohno and Jekaterina Romankova, Prince / the Nutcracker – G. Zhukovsky, Ignas Armalis, Ernestas Barčaitis, Romas Ceizaris, Stanislavas Semianiura, Mouse Queen – O. Konošenko, Kristina Galalytė, Greta Gylytė, Marta Rueda Blanco, Drosselmeyer – Marius Miliauskas, Martynas Rimeikis, Laimis Roslekas, Igoris Zaripovas, Fritz – Tomas Ceizaris, Davidas Santos, Voicechas Žuromskas, Andrius Žužžalkinas.
Audience members of all age groups are invited to see the new version of “The Nutcrakcer” – it is suitable for everyone, from youngest children to their grandparents. “The children shall see a beautiful fairy tale on stage, and the adults will enjoy the high-quality dancing”, - summarized K. Pastor
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Photos from the press conference and the rehearsal. Photographer Martynas Aleksa. Photos of the LNOBT’s archive."