There are certain cultural holiday classics that survive the test of time: Rudolph, The Grinch, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street. The same goes for classic art performances such as Handel’s Messiah, and especially The Nutcracker Ballet. They enrich the Christmas season. So when December started knocking on the door, Eve here started researching, to see who was offering performances of the classic ballet.
“Can anyone really pick a favorite scene from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker?” asked friend Bernice as we sipped holiday macchiatos. “I mean, really, Eve, how can you choose from the varied moods of that genius ballet?” I shrugged, not wanting to interrupt my pal’s poetic effusion. “The peaceful Waltz of the Snowflakes, the exciting Cossack’s dance, the eerie Arabian Dance, the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy... that ballet is a like a walk down Mood Lane. And who doesn’t love Mother Ginger and her children?”
“I couldn’t agree more,” I replied, pleased as holiday punch “And to think I never saw a live performance of it until I was in college. I’m going to bring the family again this year. I will get back to you on my favorite scene.”
Later, I was surprised to find out that the timeless holiday ballet wasn’t always such a success. The Nutcracker Ballet, based off Hoffmann’s 1800’s fairy tale The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, premiered in St Petersburg in December 1892 to mixed reviews. It took to the stage in America in 1944 with a production put on by the San Francisco Ballet. By the 1960’s, the ballet began to pick up steam on its way to becoming what it is today: a mainstay of the holiday season. Ballet companies make approximately 40 percent of their revenue from their Nutcracker productions. For many, the holiday season hasn’t happened without taking in a Nutcracker.
That’s how I feel about it. Here are some options for taking in Tciakovsky’s masterpiece here in San Diego.
The California Ballet will be performing the classic ballet, along with the San Diego Symphony, at the San Diego Civic Theatre from December 14 through December 23. Tickets start at $25 for the two-hour production, with a cast of over 150, and guests must be at least age four years old to attend.
The City Ballet of San Diego will be accompanied by The City Ballet Orchestra and Chorus as they dance The Nutcracker on the stage of the beautiful 1912 Spreckels Theatre. The show runs from December 7 through December 23 and tickets start at $25.
San Diego Ballet will be dancing the over 125-year-old ballet with a cast of over 100 dancers on the Copley Symphony Hall stage on December 29 and 30. Tickets start at $40.
Moscow Ballet’s The Great Russian Nutcracker first appeared in the United States back in 1993. Now the company offers about 100 performances in the US each season. They will be gracing the stage of the Copley Symphony Hall on December 20. Tickets start at $28.
West Coast Ballet Theatre will be presenting The Nutcracker with a cast of over 200 performers at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido on December 22 and December 23. Music will be performed by the San Diego Civic Youth Orchestra. Tickets start at $21.50.
San Diego Civic Youth Ballet has been offering classical ballet in Balboa Park for over 70 years. This year, they will be dancing the Nutcracker at the Casa Del Prado Theatre in Balboa Park from December 12 through December 23. Tickets start at $12.
Southern California Ballet will be dancing with a cast of nearly 100 on the stage of the Poway Center for the Performing Arts on December 16 and December 17. Tickets start at $20.
Those looking for something a little different than the classic ballet might enjoy A Culture Shock Nutcracker. Running from January 5 through January 7 at The Spreckels Theatre, the modern production combines contemporary music and pop culture references with Mr. Tchaikovsky’s music. The show is in its fifth season and tickets start at $20.