Monday, December 17, 2007

The Nutcracker and more from Birmingham

I have to include a few more images of stained glass. Until going to England to visit Mathias, I wasn't quite so blown away by this medium. Perhaps English stained glass is just more vivid. Perhaps there are just more examples to admire. Whatever the reason, I really love the colors, the light effects, and the painstaking detail. These are works on display in Birmingham's wonderful art museum.

So, how was The Nutcracker? It was enchanting. I've seen more than my share of different productions and Birmingham Royal Ballet's is undoubtedly the finest. I'd say this even if Mathias weren't dancing for the company. The day I arrived I saw an evening show. Later, after Steve arrived, we saw a totally different cast for a matinée. Steve and I had purchased the tickets on-line weeks ago. We didn't sit together because the six remaining seats available were scattered throughout the large auditorium. It is little wonder that these events are generally sold out.

The costumes are the most elaborate and finely crafted ever. The Victorian ball gowns look like dozens of Godey's Fashion magazine engraving from the era. The sets are gigantic and help make smooth transition from scene to scene by rotating and changing right in front of an amazed audience. Clara arrives in the Land of Snow from the top of the curtains, flying on a swan to the other side of the stage. The wings slowly flap. Afterwards, a blanket of snow behind an invisibly sheer curtain (obviously some sort of heavy material) drops as if off a roof....all the full length of the stage. It was breath-taking.

Mathias had many parts, depending on the casting. He was rightfully proud of his Jack-in-the-Box role, a performing doll at the opening party scene. This doll reappears before the battle....but this part is played by another dancer in the same costume. Sometimes, Mathias was one and sometimes the other. To the audience, of course, they look identical. Mathias also danced in Spanish and sometimes in Russian. He was often one of the cadets in the party scene...when he wasn't the Jack-in-the-Box. Frequently, he was also a rat.

Nutcracker was performed in Birmingham something like nine or ten times a week for three weeks. That's a lot of dancing! Mathias was told to get his hair, I took a picture of him there....must "look" like a cadet...the only role that didn't have a headpiece or hat!

Here are some more photos of the German Holiday market.

I bought a pair of felt slippers....of course, the ones with the little, smiling faces and crown-like tops! Mine are black and gray...sort of like a combination mouse/cat! I'm now wearing them constantly, even to the studio. There are too cute for words.

This was one of the most ingenious food stands...a garlic bulb selling....garlic!


Wanda said...

Alot of this stuff looks very GERMAN!! I love your pictures...and the colors.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,
I just found your blog today via a long route you know how it goes. I live in Birmingham and was interested to see your pictures of the german market and I had not noticed the garlic bulb. I was not lucky enough to get tickets for Nutcracker - it is such a devine story and so much the season.