Tchaikovsky's double bill is revived 100 years to the day after its premiere, and makes a delectable and occasionally touching spectacle. Yolande is a charming one- acter that anticipates the doctrines of holistic medicine; the blind princess, sung with feeling and sensitively acted by Joan Rodgers, gains sight through love, willpower, and the ministrations of an oriental doctor, vividly characterised by Clive Bayley. Kim Begley was the worthy count who revealed to Yolande both love and vision; Robert Hayward was an engaging Duke of Burgundy. Disaster nearly struck as not only Gwynne Howell but all likely alternatives for King Rene were voiceless; Michael Druiett, generously released at a few hours' notice by English National Opera, was flown up to sing strongly from the wings.
The Nutcracker was given a crisp yet alluring orchestral performance under David Lloyd-Jones. The revised scenario, devised by Martin Duncan and Matthew Bourne and danced by Adventures in Motion Pictures, has no nutcracker, nor mice, soldiers, prince or sugar plum fairy, but it yields nothing to the original in vitality, and is rather funnier; a Dickensian orphanage provides the background for a sad tale of betrayal amid a glut of dancing marshmallows, cream toppings, and spun sugar.
Tonight, then 20, 26, 28, 30 January in Leeds (0532 459351) and on tour to Nottingham, Birmingham and Manchester in February