Ruth Leon recommends…The Snow Queen – Scottish Ballet

Ruth Leon recommends…The Snow Queen – Scottish Ballet

Ruth Leon recommends

norman lebrecht

December 11, 2021

The Snow Queen – Scottish Ballet
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I’m already sick of The Nutcracker. Yes, Tchaikowsky’s music is wonderful and every version of this ballet – the paradigm is of course Balanchine’s choreography for the New York City Ballet – gives new insights into this, let’s face it, silly story of a child’s birthday party which gives way to a grown up horror tale of man-sized rats and toys which come to life. The whole thing is preposterous. After all, have you ever heard of a little girl being given a kitchen implement as a birthday present?

Instead, this year, try something a little different. Blessed with its own Russian score, in this case by Rimsky-Korsakov which is no less tuneful but much less hackneyed, Scottish Ballet’s 50th anniversary year comes to a close with the world premiere of The Snow Queen. This glittering new ballet by Christopher Hampson, designed by Lez Brotherston, is inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s much-loved tale (which was also the basis for Frozen).
From the bustle of a winter’s market to the shivers of a fairytale forest, take a journey to the Snow Queen’s palace, where you’ll find her surrounded by the icy fragments of an enchanted mirror. Along the way, you’ll meet a colourful cast of characters, from young lovers parted by a spell to a circus ringmaster with a few tricks up his sleeve.

It’s fresh and modern, the dancing from an ensemble Scottish Ballet cast is fine, and it gives us a break from the usual Christmas fare of pantos and Nutcracker.


  • V.Lind says:

    Seems to me preposterous to find a fairy tale preposterous.

  • J Barcelo says:

    As wonderful as the music for the original opera is, it is clearly less tuneful: the Divertissement dances from Act II of Tchaikovsky’s are just better. The Pas de Deux is thrilling and the scoring throughout is every bit as magical as R-K could do. Yes, The Nutcracker story is silly, but blame ETA Hoffman for that. But it’s no more silly than most other ballets or operas.

  • Nijinsky says:

    Hoffman’s story is different from the one in the ballet. It’s not just at all the prince hero against the bad rats. Hoffman’s is more complex, where the first casualty is actually against the rats. And there’s an old bitter
    recalcitrant rat Queen that wants revenge.

    But Tchaikovsky’s ballet is about a dream. Then, with the bad guy taken care of in the dream, maybe people will wake up and stop fighting; because perhaps that the bad guy exists at all is a fabrication that when looked at differently dissolves, upon waking.