Seeing The Nutcracker is one of our favorite holiday traditions! (Does it really feel like the holiday season before The Nutcracker starts?). If you’re local or visiting Boston this winter, you can see The Nutcracker right downtown with Boston Ballet, and it’s one holiday event you don’t want to miss! Here are five things you’ll love about this year’s production:
The Boston Opera House
Visiting the Boston Opera House is an experience in itself. The Opera House was originally constructed in 1927, and today its stunning architecture in the vaudeville circuit palace style are the product of years of extensive care and restoration work. This theater has had quite the history (you can read more about it here), and it’s certainly worth taking the time to look at the decor and take it in when you see any ballet.
For The Nutcracker specifically though, the Boston Opera House is made even more beautiful as its adorned with Christmas decorations. Plan to arrive early enough to check out the decorations in the lobby before going to your seat!
The Nutcracker Story
Boston Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker is based on based on the libretto by Alexandre Dumas père titled The Tale of the Nutcracker, which is adapted from E. T. A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. If you’re not familiar with the story of The Nutcracker (at least as it’s presented in the ballet) you can read up on it once you get your program.
The story features a cast of memorable characters, including The Nutcracker Bear (who you can sometimes spot in the lobby before the ballet starts!). Along with costumes and of course the dancing, the hand-painted sets help to immerse the audience into the story of The Nutcracker. The production’s famous Christmas tree grows from 16 ft tall as it appears in the living room to 42 ft tall later in the evening. One of the most impressive sets comes later when Clara arrives in the Nutcracker Prince’s Kingdom, a set that uses a forced perspective against marbled columns and hand-painted decor.
Tulle, jewels, and more!
The costumes in The Nutcracker have as much attention to detail as the sets do, with many pieces being hand-painted or hand-inked. Some of the costumes, like the Nutcracker Prince, were expertly hand-inked to fit the individual proportions of each dancer by designer Robert Perdziola. In total, you’ll see 182 costumes in each performance of The Nutcracker (though about 350 costumes were created to fit every member of each cast).
My favorite costume is always the Sugar Plum Fairy. This costume along with the Dew Drop costume have over 3,600 jewels intricately sewn onto their tutus and bodices. The tutus worn by the Sugar Plum Fair and the Snow Queen are also hand-tipped in metallic paint to give them a shimmering effect, and throughout the entire cast over 2,000 yards of tulle and 200,000 jewels were used to create the costumes in this ballet.
Hundreds of talented dancers
Did you know that each performance of The Nutcracker includes about 150 dancers? (The entire production with all casts includes just over 300!). Mikko Nissinen’s choreography brings this classic story to life with the outstanding talent of the entire Company, Boston Ballet II, and Boston Ballet School students.
New for the 2018 production, Nissinen enhanced the choreography of the Chinese sequence in the Nutcracker Prince’s kingdom, and the role of Clara is danced by a Company dancer to add to the mentoring relationship between Company dancers and students in the Boston Ballet School.
Music by Tchaikovsky
Tchaikovsky’s original score is conducted by Music Director Mischa Santora, who is new to this role following his time guest conducting performances of Romeo and Juliet last year. The Boston Ballet Orchestra is the second largest musical organization in New England. Before the ballet starts (or during intermission) walk down towards the stage to get a peek at the orchestra pit!
Boston is really full of great holiday traditions (Blink at Faneuil Hall, skating on the frog pond…) and we think The Nutcracker should definitely be on your list of holiday to-do’s in the city! We’ve also been thinking that catching a matinee performance so you have time to get some Christmas shopping done afterwards would be a fun (yet productive) way to get some holiday festivities in during a trip to Boston.
Tickets for Boston Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker start at $37, and performances run through December 30, 2018. You can get tickets online in advance here. Can’t make it to Boston this month? Boston Ballet’s season runs through June, and you can find details for all 2018-19 performances here.