|The Bolshoi's "Nutcracker"|
(photo: Bolshoi Ballet)
One of the highlights of any holiday season is the beloved ballet The Nutcracker, featuring the music of Pyotr Tchaikovsky. It was premiered in 1892 in St. Petersburg on this date, December 18, and never more exquisitely performed than by Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet (which was founded in 1776). Their 2014 production of the work was HD broadcast in a movie theater near you this past weekend. Featuring Choreography by Yuri Grigorovich, as Directed by Vincent Bataillon with Music Direction by Pavel Klonichev leading the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, the broadcast was hosted by the company's spokeswoman Katya Novikova who interviewed one of the principals, Denis Rodkin, between acts.
As most ballet buffs will already know, the story, based on E.T.A. Hoffman's tale, begins in Act I on Christmas Eve, as young Maria (Anna Nikulina) is given a present by her godfather Drosselmeyer (Andrei Merkuriev) in the form of a nutcracker. At midnight, after all of the celebrations have ended, all the toys come to life, including the Nutcracker, now a handsome young Prince (Rodkin). He and his corps of tin soldiers come to the rescue of Maria, who is threatened by the Army of the Mouse King (Vitaly Biktimirov).
Act II continues after the defeat of the Mouse King. The Nutcracker turned Prince whisks Maria away in a magic boat to the Land of Sweets. Maria and her Prince are overwhelmed with sheer happiness, having reached the kingdom of their dreams. Joyous celebrations thus may now begin, but it begins to become clear that this kingdom of their dreams is literally that, all a mere dream. (One could be forgiven for an occasional thoughtful Disney-induced digression in the direction of ostriches and hippopotami).
This production, hailed as a “bonbon” for the holiday season, was full of superior dancing by the principals as well as the entire Bolshoi Corps de Ballet, and a visual treat thanks to the imagination behind the creative elements (notably the clever and colorful sets and costumes) and the faultless performances. It's no wonder that this has become a staple for holiday viewing, well worth experiencing for the first time or on a return visit.
Presented Sunday Dec.18th at Regal Cinemas in Kingston, MA and a theater near you.