Magda O’Neil and Raul Salamance: bullish ballet boosters
There will be no Nutcracker this year, at least not a live version. The ballet has become such a part of the holiday season that it is difficult to believe that for most of its history, it has been ignored.
The ballet had its premiere in 1892 at The Saint Petersburg Imperial Mariinsky Theatre. It flopped, and would have passed into oblivion if Tchaikovsky hadn’t extracted a 20-minute orchestral suite from the full score.
It wasn’t until Christmas Eve, 1944 that The Nutcracker received its American premiere in San Francisco. That production was a huge success, and the San Francisco Ballet has presented The Nutcracker every year since then.
However, the 2020 version is a virtual affair that runs from November 27 through December 31. The price of virtual admission is $49.
The Nutcracker New York City Ballet, 1993
In 1954, The New York Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker sealed its role as a holiday favorite. By the 1960s, the ballet was being performed every Christmas in cities all over the country.
San Diego’s California Ballet Company traditionally puts on performances of The Nutcracker at the Civic Theatre. The company recently reorganized, with the school of ballet becoming a separate entity. The new Artistic and Executive Directors, Raul Salamanca and Magda O’Neil respectively, face the challenge of re-establishing the company without its biggest annual draw.
Salamanca is up for the challenge. “I’ve been preparing my whole life for an opportunity like this, and I truly believe that the city of San Diego and Southern California is ready to house a world-class ballet company. I will continue to carry the torch with respect to the company’s tradition and history, with a willingness to innovate, collaborate, and produce exciting programs for our audiences.”
Likewise, Magda O’Neil is excited to be directing the company through the pandemic. “I’m thrilled to have been invited to support California Ballet Company. Especially in a pandemic, there is room for the performing arts in our society, and I’m determined to showcase our talented dancers for our community. What a joy for me to join an organization with such rich history, talent on and offstage, and an audience who has shown such generous support for the art form.”
As the pandemic continues, arts organizations have been raising their voices in order to be included in the next Federal aid package. The entire industry has been gutted, and as each month slips by, the chances for the arts to recover to their previous state become smaller.
One thing is certain, the arts will continue. What is uncertain is the way in which we will consume them.