The Nutcracker: A 45-year Tradition Continues Downtown

Posted November 20, 2015 by Rosalind Saul in Theater & Arts

One holiday tradition that Boston waits for every year with bated breath is the Boston Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker.  This year, it’s back at the Boston Opera House from November 27th through December 31st.

The Tale of The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker is a classic Christmas tale with music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and choreography by Mikko Nissinen.  It premiered originally in St. Petersburg, Russia at the Maryinsky Theatre on December 18, 1892.  It was based on a libretto entitled The Tale of the Nutcracker written by Alexandre Dumas (père).  Dumas, in turn, based his libretto on a story written by E.T.A. Hoffman entitled The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.

The tale of The Nutcracker is a well-worn Christmas tradition.  Teenaged girl, Clara, is given a nutcracker doll as a gift from her godfather (the mysterious wizard Drosselmeyer) at her wealthy family’s Christmas ball.  Her brother, Fritz, breaks the doll (much to Clara’s upset).  After the party, Clara falls asleep under the tree and enters a world of the miraculous: the tree grows 40 feet tall, and Clara finds her Nutcracker fighting the King of Mice.  Clara throws her slipper at the Mouse King, allowing the Nutcracker to kill him.  The Nutcracker transforms into a handsome Prince, and takes Clara to the Land of Sweets  where sweets from around the world dance for Clara and the Prince.  Enthralled, Clara wakes the next morning to wonder whether this was all a dream, or a magical reality.

Did you Know…?

Boston Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker was first staged 45-years ago, but in 2012 Nissinen introduced his own costume design and choreography to rave reviews.  Every year, 99 students are chosen from the Boston Ballet school to perform in the ballet.  They then work closely with 72 artists from the Boston Ballet in order to produce the performance.  A single performance can include up to 182 costumes (350 individual outfits have been made for different members of the cast).  During the battle scene, Clara’s family Christmas tree grows from an already hefty 16 feet to a towering 43 feet.  The costumes are bedecked with over 200,000 jewels to keep the dancers sparkling performance after performance.

Things to Know about Seeing the Show

This is a family-friendly show and all patrons over the age of two are invited (and encouraged!) to attend.  Unfortunately, children two years old and younger will not be admitted into the theatre.  Every individual must have a ticket to enter the theatre (regardless of age) and lap sitting is not allowed inside the Opera House. The show runs two hours with one intermission and is performed at 7:30 PM Tuesday through Saturday, 5:30 PM on Sundays, with a 1:00 PM matinee on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

About the Boston Opera House

The Boston Opera House is a beautiful venue with a rich local history.  Originally opened in 1928 as a movie and vaudeville house, the space was designed by theatre architect Thomas W. Lamb.  In 1965, it was re-named “The Savoy” when acquired by the Sack Theatres Company.  It continued to operate it as a movie theatre until 1980 when Sarah Caldwell (Boston Opera Company director) took possession of the space with the help of philanthropist Susan Timken.  The Boston Opera Company took up residence in the once-again re-named “Boston Opera House”.  In 1991, the Company dissolved and the theatre fell into disrepair.  In 2003, the theatre was declared a landmark by Mayor Thomas Menino and Senator Edward Kennedy. At that point, an eighteen month renovation brought the theatre to its modern splendor.  The theatre re-opened on July 16, 2004 and has remained home to the Boston Ballet ever since.

For more information about The Nutcracker or to purchase tickets, visit The Boston Ballet online.