note: entire contents copyright 2010 by Sheila Barth
Ever since the original production of “The Nutcracker” premiered on Dec. 18, 1892, at the Maryinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, it has delighted audiences, fulfilling every little -and big- girl’s dreams, with visions of snowflakes and snow queens, sugar plum fairies, and dancers from many lands.
Adding to the ballet’s beauty is Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky’s magnificent music, splendidly performed by the Boston Ballet Orchestra, under the baton of principal conductor-music director Jonathan McPhee.
This year, choreographer-Boston Ballet Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen has added several extravagant neo-classical touches to his original choreography and the classical traditions of Marius Petipa’s.
The production also infuses spectacular magical flourishes provided by Beverly’s award-winning, Guinness Book of Records-breaking principals, David Bull and Marco the Magi (Cesareo Pelaez), as magician Herr Drosselmeier captivates theatergoers and guests on stage, entertaining his godchildren, Clara and Fritz Silberhaus, and their guests on Christmas Eve. Drosselmeier then brings forth a life-size dancing bear and two dancing dolls, delighting Silberhaus’ guests.
Equally captivating is when Drosselmeier and Clara float through the air on a hot-air balloon,or the magician flies on his own power, skillfully provided by experts Flying by Foy (family members formerly known as the Seven Little Foys).
Even before the show opens, a colorful scrim depicting a dark wintry streetscape is eye-catching; but when the overture begins, and the scrim reveals designers Helen Pond and Herbert Senn’s gorgeous set, this balletic extravaganza unfurls with all its beauty, including David Walker and Charles Heightchew’s lavish costumes. This year, Nissinen also added a few more delightful characters - a dotty grandmother and grandfather, dancing arthritically, while the adults waltz in ballroom precision and the children gracefully simulate their elders. Children will be children, and petulant, naughty Fritz and the boys engage in a tug-of-war with the refined little ladies. Fritz jealously grabs and breaks Clara’s special present from Drosselmeier - a nutcracker, fashioned as a toy soldier.
As midnight approaches, Clara sneaks downstairs to the Christmas tree, to hold her injured nutcracker. After she falls asleep, suddenly, the Christmas tree grows to an enormous height, while her nutcracker grows, too, into a life-size soldier. The two, armed with their troops of toy soldiers and gingerbread men, engage in a fanciful battle with a mouse king and his minions. After winning the battle, the toy soldier transforms into a handsome prince and, with Drosselmeier, leads Clara on a mystical, magical trip to the land of sweets and the Sugar Plum Queen, the Snow King and Queen and their delicate dancing snowflakes, and lovely flowers. Drosselmeier and Clara are seated on a large, pink throne, entertained by dancers from many lands - an Arabian couple, Chinese dancers with their adorable ensemble of parasol-twirling children; three Russian folk dancers who fling themselves through the air, with their high kicks, leaps, tumbles and jumps; colorful Spanish dancers; and shepherdesses tending their flocks, with a black sheep bleating behind.
The two royal couple’s pas de deux are exquisite, and the corps de ballet provides graceful, poetic precision. Each dance is breathtakingly awesome, featuring principal dancers from the US, Cuba, France, Argentina, Belarus, Georgia,Japan, Colombia, Hungary and Ukraine.
“The Nutcracker” is a visual and musical wonder that lingers long after the show is over.
BOX INFO: The Boston Ballet’s classic two-hour holiday event,performed through December 31 at the Boston Opera House, 539 Washington St., Boston. Performances on Saturday are at 1 and 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 1 and 5:30 p.m., Fridays, 7:30 p.m., excluding Dec. 17, at 12 and 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 24 at noon; Thursdays, 7:30 p.m., Dec. 23 and 30 at 1,7:30 p.m.; Wednesday, Dec. 15, at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 23 at 1,7:30 p.m.; Dec. 29, 1 p.m.; Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 28, 1,7:30 p.m. For tickets, call the Box Office at 617-695-6955 or email email@example.com. For more information, call 617-695-6950.