Wed | Dec 7, 2016

Palace Cineplex hosts 'The Nutcracker' Sunday

Published:Friday | February 27, 2015 | 12:00 AM
A scene from the Bolshoi Ballet’s 'The Nutcracker'.

The Nutcracker will be shown this Sunday at the Palace Cineplex, starting at 11:30 a.m.

Now deemed the world's most popular and beloved ballet, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker was a flop when it was originally produced in 1892 by Marius Petipa and his assistant Lev Ivanov.

Audiences in St Petersburg were not thrilled with the performance, which was loosely adapted from the E.T.A. Hoffmann story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.

The ballet's first complete performance outside of its native Russia took place in England in 1934, staged by Nicholas Sergeyev after Petipa's original choreography. An abridged version performed by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo was staged in New York City in 1940 by Alexandra Fedorova. Again, it was done after Petipa's version.

The Nutcracker made its United States debut on December 24, 1944, at the San Francisco Ballet, staged by its artistic director Willam Christensen. The New York City Ballet gave its first annual performance of George Balanchine's staging of The Nutcracker in 1954 and the tradition of performing the complete ballet at Christmas eventually spread to the rest of the United States.

Since Vasili Vainonen's 1934 version in Russia, and Balanchine's 1954 New York City Ballet production, many other choreographers have made their own versions. Some institute the changes made by Gorsky and Vainonen respectively, while others (like Balanchine) utilise the original libretto.

Some notable productions of The Nutcracker include those by Rudolf Nureyev for the Royal Ballet, Yuri Grigorovich for the Bolshoi Ballet, Mikhail Baryshnikov for the American Ballet Theatre, and Peter Wright for the Royal Ballet and the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

In recent years, revisionist productions, including those by Mark Morris, Matthew Bourne, and Mikhail Chemiakin, have appeared. These depart radically from both the original 1892 libretto and Gorsky's revival.

In The Nutcracker, guests are gathering for a Christmas party at the Stahlbaum home. Among them are Drosselmeyer, godfather to Marie and Fritz, the Stahlbaums' children. He has brought them a wonderful present: a funny Nutcracker.

The children wait impatiently to be shown the Christmas tree and presents. The long-awaited moment comes and the handsomely adorned Christmas tree is presented to the assembled company.

Drosselmeyer suddenly appears, disguised as a magician. The children do not recognise him. Their unknown guest's ability to make their toys come alive delights the children, but as everything that is clad in mystery, it involuntarily arouses their fear. In order to calm them, Drosselmeyer takes off his mask and the children now recognise their beloved godfather.

Marie wants to play with the wonderful dolls which have come alive, but they have already been put away. To comfort Marie, Drosselmeyer gives her the Nutcracker doll. Marie takes a great liking to this awkward, funny creature.

Marie's brother, Fritz, who is a great tease and very naughty, accidentally breaks the doll. With great tenderness, Marie comforts her injured Nutcracker and rocks it backwards and forwards. Fritz and his friends now put on mouse masks and tease poor Marie.

The guests appear from an adjoining room. After the final ceremonial Grossvater dance, they all leave.

At night, the room where the Christmas tree stands is bathed in moonlight. It looks mysterious and full of magical secrets. Overcoming her fears, Marie has come to the room to visit her 'sick' Nutcracker doll. She kisses the doll and rocks it.

Drosselmeyer now appears. But instead of her kind godfather, he has turned into a wizard. At a wave of his hand, everything around them is transformed - the walls of the room slide back, the Christmas tree starts to grow. All the toys come alive and grow together with the tree.

Suddenly, mice creep out from under the floorboards, led by the Mouse King. The dolls are panic-stricken and thrown into confusion. The Nutcracker's quick wits and bravery save the day. Lining up the lead soldiers, he boldly leads them out to do battle with the mice forces.

However, the forces are unequal; the advantage is on the side of the evil mice. The Nutcracker is left alone to face the Mouse King and his suite. Marie is out of her mind with worry over the danger that threatens her doll.

Swan Lake, another renowned ballet composed by Tchaikovsky, is scheduled for Sunday, March 15.

Tickets are on sale at participating cinema box offices and via the web at www.palaceamusement.com, with a Palace Card.