The Nutcracker and I: Pianist Alexandra Dariescu brings multimedia performance of Tchaikovsky's piece to Bucharest
The Nutcracker and I, a multimedia performance for piano solo created by pianist Alexandra Dariescu, is performed in Bucharest on December 19.
Dariescu created and produced the show, described as The Nutcracker for the 21st century, "out of a personal responsibility to reach out to younger audiences and build bridges for those perhaps new to classical music." It tells the story of the musician as Clara: from little girl to concert pianist.
On stage, Dariescu is joined by a ballerina behind a see-through gauze screen while hand-drawn digital animations are projected onto the gauze, "bringing the magical story to life."
The music contains 15 movements of the original Tchaikovsky score arranged by Mikhail Pletnev, Stefan Esipoff, Percy Grainger and three new adaptations by Gavin Sutherland.
The Nutcracker and I premiered at Barbican's Milton Court in December 2017, supported by the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. It has since been shown across Europe, Australia, China, the Emirates and the US, with more than 75 performances in venues such as the Wiener Konzerthaus, Laeiszhalle Hamburg, Philharmonie Luxembourg, Auditorium de Lyon, Verbier Festival, Konserthuset Gothenburg, King's Place London, Melbourne Recital Hall, Sydney City Recital Hall, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Shanghai Grand Theatre, Dubai Opera House and Las Vegas Summerlin Library.
The show is directed by Nick Hillel. In Bucharest, it is shown at the Ion Dacian National Theater.
Romanian-born Alexandra Dariescu has performed with orchestras such as the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Oslo Philharmonic and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, whilst the conductors she has worked with include Adam Fischer, Cristian Măcelaru, Alain Altinoglu, Fabien Gabel, Jun Märkl, Vasily Petrenko, Ryan Bancroft, James Gaffigan and JoAnn Falletta.
In the 2023/24 season, Dariescu opened the BBC Symphony Orchestra season with Sakari Oramo at the Barbican Centre, giving the UK premiere of Dora Pejačević's Phantasie concertante. In North America, she debuted with the Indianapolis Symphony (Nadia Boulanger) and Vancouver Symphony orchestras. She returned to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for the world premiere of James Lee III's new piano concerto Shades of Unbroken Dreams, in honor of the 60th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech. The concerto, written for Dariescu, is a co-commission alongside the BBC Philharmonic and Orlando Philharmonic orchestras, with the UK premiere under the baton of John Storgårds.
In 2022, Dariescu made the world premiere recording of a newly discovered piano concerto by Leokadiya Kashperova (1900) with the BBC Symphony Orchestra for BBC Radio 3's program 'Composer of the Week'. Further discoveries and premieres of neglected pieces Dariescu has given include Nadia Boulanger's Fantaisie Variée, Concierto argentino by Alberto Ginastera and Dora Pejačević's Phantasie concertante.
Dariescu has released eight albums, the latest disc being her Decca recording with Angela Gheorghiu. The discography includes a Trilogy of Complete Preludes series on Champs Hill Records, as well as Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Darrell Ang (Signum Records), in addition to The Nutcracker and I audiobook.
(Photo: Nigel Norrington)