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betsuni

(26,545 posts)
Sun Dec 18, 2022, 09:52 PM Dec 2022

December 18, 1892, St. Petersburg: anniversary of the first performance of "The Nutcracker" ballet.

Last edited Mon Dec 19, 2022, 03:02 AM - Edit history (1)

The Sugar Plum Fairy:



It's snowing and I'm making sugar cookies. The perfect soundtrack:



From Solomon Volkov's "Balanchine's Tchaikovsky, Conversations with Balanchine on His Life, Ballet and Music":

"'The Nutcracker' is Tchaikovsky's masterpiece. He said beforehand that he would write music that would make everyone weep! I danced in 'The Nutcracker' as a child at the Maryinsky Theater. ... 'The Nutcracker' is a story by E. T. A. Hoffmann that was incredibly popular in Russia. ... They love him more there than in Germany. The Germans don't like Hoffmann for criticizing them. Hoffmann offended everyone, he was a true Romantic. ... 'The Nutcracker' is a ballet about Christmas. We used to have a fantastic Christmas in Petersburg. ... The tree had a wonderful scent, and the candles gave off their own aroma of wax. The tree was decorated with gold paper angels and stars, tangled up in silver 'rain,' or tinsel. I liked the fat glass pears -- they didn't break if they fell. ... Tchaikovsky remained a child all of his life, he felt things like a child. He liked the German idea that man in his highest development approaches the child. Tchaikovsky loved children as themselves, not as future adults. Children contain maximum possibilities. Those possibilities often do not develop, they are lost.

"The idea for all those dances belong to Petipa ... Petipa suggested Spanish, Arabian, and Russian dances. Tchaikovsky took a Georgian lullaby for the Arabian dance. It's a Georgian melody, not Arabian -- but who cares? ... The second act of 'Nutcracker' is more French than German. Petipa liked the idea of Konfituerenburg because at the time in Paris there was a fad for special spectacles in which various sweets were depicted by dancers. Actually, 'Nutcracker's' second act is an enormous balletic sweetshop. In Petersburg there was a store like that, it was called Eliseyevsky's: huge glass windows, rooms big enough for a palace, high ceilings, opulent chandeliers, almost like the ones at the Maryinsky. The floors at Eliseyevsky's were covered in sawdust, and you could not hear footsteps -- it was like walking on carpets. The store had sweets and fruits from all over the world, like in 'A Thousand and One Nights.' I used to walk past and look in the windows often. I couldn't buy anything there, it was too expensive.

"Everything that appears in the second act of 'Nutcracker' is a candy or something tasty. ... The Sugar Plum Fairy is a piece of candy and the dewdrops are made of sugar. The Buffon is a candy cane. It's all sugar! The Petersburg 'Nutcracker' also had Prince Coqueluche. Coqueluche means whooping cough. I think Prince Coqueluche was supposed to represent a lozenge or cough drop. ... All this makes up Konfituerenberg, land of sweets. ... They're supposed to make everyone's mouth water! ... I think that people also like 'Nutcracker' so much because nowadays everyone is interested in how children used to live and play. In my day there was no interest in that. No one asked children how they lived, what they thought. Children simply tried to become as much like adults as quickly as possible, and that was that."
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December 18, 1892, St. Petersburg: anniversary of the first performance of "The Nutcracker" ballet. (Original Post) betsuni Dec 2022 OP
Pacific Northwest Ballet, Nutcracker: The Motion Picture. Maurice Sendak sets and costumes. betsuni Dec 2022 #1
We went several times when the Sendak version was being done. nolabear Dec 2022 #2
I do too. The Sendak version was unique to the Pacific Northwest. betsuni Dec 2022 #3
Thanks. You remembered it last year too. mahatmakanejeeves Dec 2022 #4
You're welcome! betsuni Dec 2022 #5

betsuni

(26,545 posts)
1. Pacific Northwest Ballet, Nutcracker: The Motion Picture. Maurice Sendak sets and costumes.
Mon Dec 19, 2022, 02:17 AM
Dec 2022




Sadly, the Pacific Northwest Ballet changed artistic directors and the company now performs the old New York City Ballet Balanchine version. The Maurice Sendak sets were beautiful and the story closer to the darker Hoffmann original.

nolabear

(42,209 posts)
2. We went several times when the Sendak version was being done.
Mon Dec 19, 2022, 02:54 AM
Dec 2022

It was just magical. It was a real loss imo when they went to the usual depiction. I still hope they’ll reprise it someday.

betsuni

(26,545 posts)
3. I do too. The Sendak version was unique to the Pacific Northwest.
Mon Dec 19, 2022, 06:45 AM
Dec 2022

Same old Balanchine version is boring.

betsuni

(26,545 posts)
5. You're welcome!
Mon Dec 19, 2022, 11:48 PM
Dec 2022

I like to think Tchaikovsky would be surprised and happy that "The Nutcracker" is now so popular, and thanks to the U.S.!

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