Last night I went to see a performance of The Nutcracker at the National Arts Centre of Canada. I bought the tickets way back in September and have been looking forward to this for a long time. I’d hoped to write a jolly little post about the ballet as part of my blog’s Christmas-ification, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. There were some parts of the performance that I admired, but overall the evening was pretty disappointing.
Costume design was spot-on. Every dancer looked vibrant and authentic to the period and culture. The ballet’s history is Russian, but the artistic director worked in a few distinctly Canadian elements, as this show was performed by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. The show contained a bit of hockey and a goofy bear. These were nice touches, but they made the performance feel somewhat childish.
The cast did contain a lot of children in the 8 to 12 range, and I was impressed by their composure on stage. They hit their marks, played to their audience, and worked as a team. They were very impressive for young performers.
The last thing I have to commend is the orchestra. Dan thought it was slightly top heavy, but I quite enjoyed them. They had excellent coordination and flow throughout, and they were the only consistently enjoyable part of the show.
As soon as the lights went up for intermission, Dan and I turned to each other and said, “God, did you see how out of sync they were?” Synchronization improved greatly in the second half of the show, when it was primarily principals, soloists, and demo-soloists on stage, but the first half was hard to watch. It distracts the eye when dancers who should be moving as one are out of time with one another. It makes you cringe, waiting for somebody to get kicked in the face during a mis-timed arabesque.
Although the music was beautiful, the sound of the dancers was not. Apparently the RWB suffers from a serious shortage of rosin. If you closed your eyes, the ballet sounded exactly like grade school gym class. Squeek. Squeek. Schreeeeech. It totally takes the poignancy out of the artistic moments.
These things were disappointing, and I don’t think the tickets were worth $90 a pop, but I still would have paid at least $50 to see the show. Except…
Two of my fellow patrons took it upon themselves to make sure that nobody got their money’s worth last night. I don’t know what it is about new parents these days, but they can’t seem to fathom that their babies are not welcome everywhere. These two winning specimens — probably not intelligent enough to have genes worth passing on, anyway — decided to bring a 10-month-old infant to a seven o’clock performance of The Nutcracker. Their baby preceded to babble, whine, and wail for the entire two hours without pause. There are certain things that have to happen when your child is at that age — you either miss out on grown-up things, or you hire a damn babysitter. These selfish jerks decided to ruin everyone else’s evening because they couldn’t be bothered to do the latter.
The second part of The Nutcracker was great, with the most ambitious choreography and gorgeous costumes, but by that time the demon baby was shrieking, so it was extremely difficult to enjoy what was happening on stage. I was so mad at the parents for bringing her, and so mad at the NAC for allowing a child that young into an evening performance. I believe that once a kid is about four or five, they can handle sitting through live theatre. By that point they can sit still, focus, and mind their manners. At ten months? Not a chance.
I left the theatre feeling so cheated and angry that I complained to the NAC. I don’t know what will come of it yet because they don’t answer email on the weekends, but I’m hoping I can at least get a partial refund for a wasted evening. It saddens me that this event I was so looking forward to, that was supposed to be such a special part of the Christmas season, was ruined by the selfishness of others.
I’m sorry that this post had to be a downer. I promise to re-up the holiday cheer with the eighth Day of Christmas tomorrow (it’s a good ‘un).