As much as I like to lead my family along on my weekend agenda, they are all grown-up enough now to have their own! So this year, my daughter was the one who decided that we are going yet again to The Nutcracker at Boston Ballet. We were lucky to be invited to the Opening Matinee on November 29 (the shows are through December 29 this year) with the backstage tour to follow (here is the video of our visit).
If we have started our December holidays with Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker too many times – it is for a reason (or two!) Tchaikovsky’s music is of course timeless and… magical (due in no small part to the efforts of Boston Ballet’s brilliant music director Mischa Santora).
I always have tears in my eyes during the Grand Pas de Deux at the end of Act II with Sugar Plum Fairy and Nutcracker Prince (google it and you’ll see what I mean). Vi’s favorite part is when it starts snowing in the enchanted forest (with dancing Snow Queen, King and the snowflakes).
We came home inspired and watched the famous Sugar Plum Pas de Deux from different ballet companies around the world; and while dancing was brilliant in different ways, Vi pointed to me the superiority of Boston Ballet’s sets! The festive (award winning!) sets – is another reason to get out of your warm house, battle the cold (and it was cold and windy in Boston on the night of the season opener and it is snowing as I am writing this) – and let yourself be carried away into the Holidays! The sets and costumes are by Robert Perdziola (original to this Boston Ballet production staged by Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen in 2012).
It is an easy family ballet to follow: young Clara receives a nutcracker as a gift at her family’s Christmas Eve party. Later that night, her nutcracker magically transforms into a handsome prince, who leads her through an enchanted forest and on to the Nutcracker Prince’s Kingdom (based on the libretto by Alexandre Dumas père titled The Tale of the Nutcracker, which in turn is adapted from E. T. A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King).
Yet, Mikko Nissinen calls The Nutcracker “technically challenging” which allows dancers to “grow with the company and explore variety of roles and characters.”
We saw Lia Cirio and Lasha Khozashvili in the leading roles of of Sugar Plum Fairy and The Nutcracker Prince during the Opening Matinee last Friday; here are Leo and Lasha a couple of years ago as Arabian Dancers:
Act II showcases the dances from around the world that would please ballet goers of all ages. (There was even “he is not wearing a shirt” whisper moment during one of the dances).
Our visit was made extra special by post-show behind the stage tour. We saw Mother Ginger’s skirt resting up on the ceiling and took a photo next to the snow sled (that carried Clara and the.Nutcracker Prince into the forest).
There were party drinks (as in props, not for us):
We also saw a control center and as the music started it was our cue to unfortunately leave the stage and let the dancers get ready for the evening performance. (I was ready to linger backstage for a couple of hours more). You can watch a video of our tour here:
The Nutcracker includes the full Company of 56 dancers, 13 Boston Ballet II dancers, and 250 Boston Ballet School students.
All Nutcracker Performances are in Boston Opera House through December 29.
For tickets, visit Boston Ballet’s page.
For cyber weekend 40%off for selected Nutcracker and other Boston Ballet spring shows use this link (code CYBERWKNDd is built-in) through Tuesday night, December 3.
The Nutcracker performance length is approximately 2 hours including one intermission.
Check out all our December Holiday ideas here.