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Televisual treats: The Royal Opera and Royal Ballet on TV this Christmas

Details of when you can watch opera and ballet on the box.

By Chris Shipman (Content Producer (Social Media and News))

12 December 2011 at 1.22pm | 16 Comments


As well as the chance to spend some time with family and celebrate a key moment in the religious calendar, Christmas is a great time to curl up on the sofa and watch some festive TV. In between the ‘year in review’ shows, nostalgic film and soap opera histrionics there’s a healthy dose of opera and ballet on TV and radio. We’ve picked out some highlights.

What better way to kick off the festivities than The Royal Ballet’s Nutcracker (BBC Four, 23 December 7pm; Sky Arts 2 23 December 8pm, 24 December 2am, 24 December 2pm, 25 December 8am)? Tickets for the popular live production at the Royal Opera House are limited, but still available. The ballet runs here until 18 January 2012.

Following the success of BBC Four’s Opera Italia, Christmas Eve sees Royal Opera House Musical Director Antonio Pappano present Pappano's Essential Tosca (BBC Two, 1:35pm; repeated BBC Two, 14 January, 8pm) and the opportunity to take a televisual trip to Rome with the Maestro to examine the various real life locations included in Puccini’s opera. This will be followed by a broadcast of the opera itself (BBC Two, 2:35pm) – the perfect opportunity to impress family with your new-found operatic knowledge.

Take a trip down the rabbit hole on Christmas Day when Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland will be broadcast in a pre-Christmas Lunch slot (BBC Two, 12:10pm). Feel free to dance around the living room to work up an appetite for turkey. If you are planning on doing so, may we recommend brushing up on your Fouettés and Pirhouettes with our YouTube ballet glossary.

After wolfing down the traditional mountain of sprouts and slab of Christmas pudding, get glitzy with Darcey Bussell as she steps into the shoes of her Hollywood heroes to celebrate the enduring legacy of classic dance musicals. Darcey Dances Hollywood (BBC Two, 6pm) will feature the former Royal Ballet Principal dancing a new routine inspired by the Dem Bones Café number from The Band Wagon. And if that's not enough, there's also the opportunity to catch former Royal Ballet dancers the BalletBoyz in a documentary (BalletBoyz: Next Generation) that's followed them over the past two years (More 4, 25 December, 11:05pm)

Heading towards the year’s climax, say goodbye to 2011 in style with the glamour and drinking of La traviata (BBC Radio 3, 31 December, 6pm). Perfect pre-celebratory listening (though we hope that your evening ends better than Alfredo and Violetta’s).

If your New Year’s resolution is to listen to more opera, get 2012 off to a flier with Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (BBC Radio 3, 1 January, 2:45pm). With the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House under the baton of Antonio Pappano and starring the likes of Sir John Tomlinson, Wolfgang Koch, Emma Bell and Simon O’Neill, it’ll be a rousing way to begin a year. If you’d prefer to join us at the House in person, tickets are still available.

What will you be watching over Christmas? Are you tempted by any of our televisual treats?

By Chris Shipman (Content Producer (Social Media and News))

12 December 2011 at 1.22pm

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged Christmas, TV, Xmas

This article has 16 comments

  1. Sophie Morton responded on 12 December 2011 at 5:27pm Reply

    I cannot wait! Perfect television viewing! I wanted to see the Alice in Wonderland ballet so I'm happy it's on the box! And Izzy loves the Nutcracker. And who can resist the Balletboyz!

  2. Rob BRown responded on 12 December 2011 at 5:51pm Reply

    Perfect especially as I failed to get tickets. Disappointed however that Traviata is only on radio.

  3. It's a pity that those of us outside the UK will miss out. I've written before to Covent Garden about getting the cinema screen experience of their productions to India. I strongly feel this will be benefecial to them and to us.
    Anyway, I hope we can at least some day get the DVD. But I hope the management considers the possibility of getting the cinema screen experience to India. Feel free to write to me to discuss it further.

    • Chris Shipman (Content Producer (Social Media and News)) responded on 13 December 2011 at 11:49am

      Hi Dr Dias. Thanks for your comments about cinema screenings of productions in India. I've passed your comments on to our distributors so please check back for any further developments.

  4. Rick Holden responded on 14 December 2011 at 11:38pm Reply

    Here in Tucson last night was Royal Ballet Nutcracker on the Ovation channel. Most enjoyable to see the transitional one after the dreadful one the night before from the Mariinsky. Only the star's names were not announced and so don't know who they were only that they were marvelous. I think the girl was Japanese.

  5. Ann Lander responded on 16 December 2011 at 7:31pm Reply

    Really looking forward to seeing Tosca on the telly. A great reminder both of an amazing performance & of waiting until 1.00 am for autographs. Made some lovely new friends that magical evening.

  6. Ron Dixon responded on 21 December 2011 at 9:11am Reply

    I agree with Rob Brown. What a fantastic event it would be to see Traviata on Telly!!

  7. Ellen West responded on 21 December 2011 at 2:04pm Reply

    Hi Ron, Hope that you enjoy the radio of broadcast of traviata, even without the visuals. Here's a picture of Renée Fleming in the same production back in 2009:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/royaloperahouse/6441023667/in/set-72157628245325677/

  8. Douglas Lee responded on 23 December 2011 at 5:42pm Reply

    I'm looking forward with great excitement to seeing Nutcracker this evening. It's one of two ballets I love (the other being Romeo and Juliet), and I would go to see it every year if I had someone to go with! So it will be lovely to sit back in the comfort of my own home and enjoy the wonderful RB production of this wonderful ballet.

  9. Claudia Paslaru responded on 24 December 2011 at 1:25am Reply

    Wonderful!!! Thank you 1000 times! [ for Tosca in particular]

  10. Val Baker responded on 29 December 2011 at 12:00am Reply

    I watched Alice in Wonderland,wow what a visual feast,The Nutcracker(shown on BBC4 and SkyArts)i prefer the 2009 prouction to the one filmed in 2000,the later one is slicker i think and has super casting.
    Shame about the radoi broadcast of Traviata,one of favourite operas,i saw Tosca which was also great.Pity we cannot see more ballet/opera on tv so i am grateful to have these festive treats.

  11. Guys please help.
    I accidentally turned over to the Nutcracker (BBC 4, Thu 22 ) and could not stop watching. I'm not into ballet at all, but that was just mesmerising!!!
    Who was Clara in that particular show broadcast by BBC? I don't think it was the interviewed Leanne... the other girl had her hair down and looked different, but God she was amazing. What a show!!! I can't find it anywhere online... I'd love to watch that again!!!

    • Chris Shipman (Content Producer (Social Media and News)) responded on 30 December 2011 at 10:18am

      Hi Tom. Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the kind words - great to hear that those that don't have prior experience of ballet are loving it! The Nutcracker broadcast was a recording from 2000 so you're right, it wasn't Leanne Cope as Clara but Alina Cojocaru, who is one of our Principals 11 years later!

      As for seeing it again, afraid the seven days on BBC iPlayer has just elapsed but you can purchase it on DVD - 2000 or 2009 productions available.

  12. Chris,

    You made my day with your reply!
    Thanks a lot!!!

    Kind regards,
    Tom.

  13. Phil Aplin responded on 15 December 2012 at 12:32pm Reply

    Last year was great but very little in 2012

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