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Tivoli’s version of The Nutcracker – an enchanting fairy tale ballet

Review of a slightly different version of the world-famous ballet, The Nutcracker, which in Tivoli’s version is given its very own life. This is the fourth time Tivoli stages the performance for Christmas, and only the second time danced with live music performed by Tivoli Copenhagen Phil’s 70 musicians.

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By Bente D. Knudsen   Pictures: PR Tivoli, Hasse Ferrold (ballet dancers)

Since 2012, the wonderful Christmas ballet, The Nutcracker, has been performed every other year at Tivoli’s Concert Hall.

This is a deal made with the Royal Danish Ballet, who puts up the classic ballet version at the Royal Theatre the other year. And since the two versions are quite different, with only the music and baseline story the same, it is worthwhile seeing them both, if you are in Denmark long enough to do so.

The Tivoli Nutcracker version will be performed until 23 December and seeing it is a great treat to ending a day in Tivoli, or the beginning to an enchanting evening afterwards in the delightfully decorated park.

You might as well make it into a Christmas excursion as the entrance to Tivoli is included in the ticket price.

If you have never been inside the concert hall, you will be surprised by the large aquarium, which stretches all along the corridor of the wardrobe and bar area. Magnificent many coloured fish attract a lot of attention from adults and children alike. The relevance of the aquarium with the concert hall is bewildering but still enchanting.

The conductor arrives, and Tchaikovsky’s mesmerising music starts flowing through the air.

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If you have already seen a more classic version of The Nutcracker, as the ballet is performed in the US for instance, you will be slightly bewildered when H.C. Andersen arrives on stage to take part in the Christmas Eve dinner in act one with Clara and her family.

However, somehow, he could easily have been in the original version too, and when he sits in the high chair reading his fairy tales, you have already quite forgotten that he is a new addition to the story.

Of course, Tivoli’s version is very child friendly and younger children will enjoy this well-known figure on stage.

Danish Queen Margrethe plays an important part in The Nutcracker as she is the set designer of the Tivoli version, and as the evening progresses, her taste for colours and bold combinations of colours becomes very visible in the magnificent multi-coloured costumes.

As Clara falls asleep, in her dreams she wakes up in a dreamland of H.C. Andersen’s fairy tales together with the well-known Tivoli characters Pjerrot, Harlekin and Columbine (all three characters are part of Tivoli’s summer pantomime plays) and the real enchantment begins.

Act 2 is truly mesmerising, the costumes are surprising but add so much to the performance, and the dancing (on a rather small stage) is bewitching.

This year, very talented ballet dancers perform bold pas de deux dances on what is really very little space, and the many ballet children of all ages who participate in the various dances add a charming dimension much to the amusement of the audience.

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Music, dancing, acting and set design all come together in this magical performance. You cannot help being bewitched by it all, even if you have seen The Nutcracker before in a larger stage setting and more classic version.

Tivoli makes the evening very child friendly as both candy and popcorn can be brought in during the performance, and special boxes can be added on top of the regular seats allowing small children to look past a tall adult sitting front.

The stage, being smaller than for instance at the royal theatre, seats to the very far side of the stage cannot be recommended, as the vision from them is slightly impaired, so try to get centre stage seats for the best experience.

You can order drinks from the bar when you arrive to be ready for you during the break ( they will be standing ready on a long table in the wardrobe section) to avoid queuing during the break, which can only be strongly recommended, if you want to enjoy your drink peacefully during the 30 minute interlude between the two acts.

Being a ballet, no Danish language skills are required, however, some knowledge of H.C. Andersen’s fairy tales (The Tinder-Box and The Snow Queen) can be an advantage.

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Upon leaving the concert hall, we stroll through Tivoli both bewitched and enchanted with the ballet, the mesmerising lights and true Christmas atmosphere of this fascinating and magnificently snow decorated park.

If you go to Tivoli during the weekends, expect it to be crowded, as this is one of the favourite Christmas excursions not only for Danes, but also for Swedes and other tourists.