A magical Christmas - The Nutcracker with Birchbox

13 Dec 2013

The Nutcracker with Birchbox

The ballet is something I have always wanted to experience, but never had the chance. A few weeks ago I received a lovely invitation from Birchbox, to attend The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House, London, as a guest of Birchbox. I was overwhelmed with the invitation and instantly accepted, thrilled that I would finally be seeing a ballet! Because it was such a wonderful experience for me - my very first ballet experience - I wanted to share the night with you all! 

I arrived in London very early (six hours early, in fact) because I wanted to make the most of what was to be my final day in London for 2013. As you can imagine with all the Christmas lights, trees and festive displays, walking around London was a treat. I think Christmas time is the best time of year in London; the buzz of excitement, the smiles and shopping for Christmas presents. Everyone is so much happier at Christmas! After a lovely, relaxed day in London I made my way to Covent Garden to meet the lovely Birchbox team and other lovely bloggers who had been invited along. Covent Garden is one of my favourite places in London, even more so at Christmas when it's beautifully decorated and very festive indeed. Browsing the market and shops whilst carole singers and street entertainment went on all around, left me in a very excited mood for Christmas! Covent Garden always leaves me content.

Upon arriving at the Royal Opera House we were greeted by the lovely, welcoming staff and taken on a very exciting back-stage tour. For my first time not only at the ballet, but the Royal Opera House itself, this was very surreal for me. We started off by visiting the auditorium and orchestra pit, before everyone came in for the night's performance. We were also allowed back-stage and on the front stage of the Royal Opera House. I'll tell you something, that will be a memory I never forget, being stood center stage at the Royal Opera House! I can't imagine how the casts of each performance manage to do that, and perform both physically and vocally, in front of 2,256 people (when there's a full house, which their usually is!) I even managed to sneak a few pictures of the set and one with me in front of the wonderfully magical golden owl in which Herr Drosselmeyer, played by Alastair Marriott, appears during the performance. We also got to tour what felt like the entire building, seeing dance studios, costume departments (the costumes for Jewels were breath-taking) as well as meeting members of the cast. We got to watch the young children from The Royal Ballet Lower School practicing for their parts as children, toy soldiers, mice and drummers. Our tour left me in awe! It was a little bit overwhelming - whilst being entirely magical. An experience I will never forget; if you can get to the Royal Opera House I thoroughly recommend checking out their back-stage tours

The Nutcracker with Birchbox

Once the tour was sadly over, we joined the other bloggers attending the performance in one the three restaurants housed within the Royal Opera House. It was lovely to see Zoe (The London Lipgloss/ZOE LDN) and Ella (Coco's Tea Party) again as well as meeting  Ree (Really Ree) and Jen (A Beauty Junkie in London) for the first timeAfter some lovely nibbles, meeting more of the cast of The Nutcracker and a few glasses of bubbles, we took our seats and eagerly awaited the beginning of The Nutcracker. When the orchestra began, I instantly felt giddy - this wasn't just a treat of a wonderful, artistic dance performance, but my first time in front of a live orchestra. I had a little bit of a geek-out moment. When The Nutcracker began, I felt like I was a child again at Christmas visiting pantomimes and plays. Oh I know, the ballet is far more exquisite than a pantomime, but it was that same feeling of excitement and festive joy which I adore! 

I wish I could sit here and explain every last detail, but that would spoil it for those of you wanting to go and see a performance of The Nutcracker. What I can say however, is how much I enjoyed it. How much I already want to go back and see another performance. The ability, physique, determination and passion from each and every member of the cast, is astounding. The level that each dancer performed to, was awe-inspiring. The set, the costumes, the lighting, the orchestra, each play it's own part in a truly magnificent and magical performance that has left me smitten with both ballet and the Royal Opera House. My eyes were flitting between the set, the faces of the performers and cast and the feet, watching things I could never dream of doing myself. Clara, performed by Meaghan Grace Hinkis, was incredible, and I was completely captivated by The Plum Fairy, performed by Lauren Cuthbertson, and The Prince, played by Cory Stearns. The whole performance was just... amazing! It was an incredible first ballet experience and I know it won't be long before I return. I cannot thank Birchbox and the Royal Opera House enough for such a magical, unforgettable experience.

Have you ever been to the ballet? What ballet's would you recommend I go and see?

The Nutcracker with Birchbox

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*This post contains a performance which I was kindly invited to as a guest of Birchbox UK.