Cairo Opera House: The Nutcracker
El Borg Gezira
Anne de Groot
Even if you are not a fan of the festive season, the positive side is that a lot of activities are taking place around Cairo. The Cairo Opera House is currently hosting the classic ballet the Nutcracker until December 28th. The Cairo Opera Ballet Company and the Cairo Opera Orchestra have joined forces to perform Tchaikovsky’s charming ballet. Excited and curious, this reviewer attended the matinee.
The Nutcracker tells the tale of young Clara and is set up in two acts. In the first act, Clara and her family spend Christmas together and decorate the tree. Her godfather Mr. Drosselmeyer (Hany Hassan at the time of our visit) comes along to bring presents for the children. Among the presents is a wooden nutcracker shaped like a little man. Clara has an immediate liking for the nutcracker.
Unfortunately, the doll breaks during a row with her brother, leaving Clara heartbroken. Mr Drosselmeyer fixes the doll and during the night, Carla gets out of bed to check on it. However, after midnight the magic starts. The nutcracker doll has been brought to life and a battle between mice and gingerbread men takes place. Tin soldiers and other dolls come to the rescue and with Clara’s help, the nutcracker sees an opportunity to kill the mouse king. The mice retreat and the nutcracker turns into a handsome prince while Clara becomes an adult too.
In the second act they travel together to the land of sweets. In honour of the guests a celebration of sweets takes place. There is a Spanish dance to celebrate chocolate, an Arabian dance for coffee and the Chinese dance for tea amongst others. At the end of the magical journey to the land of Sweets, Clara awakens and it all appears to have been a dream. She wakes up under the Christmas tree while cuddling with her nutcracker doll.
Hany Hassan (who happens to be a Patrick Swayze look-alike) is phenomenal in his role of Mr. Drosselmeyer. His dancing and acting are perfect and he is the true entertainer of the show. The second act of the play is the best part; especially the Arabian dance where belly dancing meets ballet- it’s outstanding and had the crowd going wild. The Chinese dance was very entertaining and got some laughs from the audience.
The pas de deux between the prince and Clara dance in the end was so beautiful that this reviewer was actually brought to tears. However, the biggest stars of the performance were most definitely the children of the Cairo Ballet Company. These young boys and girls are living proof that Egypt’s got talent; they absolutely stole the show.
The ballet will continue until Wednesday. There are performances every evening at 8PM and on Tuesday there is a matinee at 11.30AM. The Nutcracker is absolutely worth a visit whether you like Christmas or not.