On Nov. 25, the Boston Opera House was full of life during the grand opening of "The Nutcracker."
The first thing the audience noticed during the performance was the dancers' stage presence. Their costumes are vibrant and the choreography pulsed with rhythm. Tchaikovsky’s music perfectly coordinated with each dancer's step. In moments of crescendo, the music seemed to vibrate through their bodies, lifting them up to then come back down. The choreography is structured; one described it as “geometric but effortless.”
The Boston Opera House has performed "The Nutcracker" annually for the past 42 years. This year marks its 43rd performance on stage in the 2,500-seat venue.
"The Nutcracker," written by E.T.A. Hoffman, is set in a small town in Germany during the 1820s. It tells the tale of a young girl named Clara who received a doll-sized Nutcracker handcrafted by her uncle as a Christmas present. She falls in love with it and calls to ask her uncle to make it life-size.
Later, she embarks on a journey with the Nutcracker after her uncle grants her wish. Clara and the Nutcracker go through an enchanted forest, fight off a giant bear, and witness the witty dance of the giant Sugar Plum Fairy. The Nutcracker, who becomes a prince, even fights off the Mouse King. It’s a children’s tale but one that all enjoy. Young couples, parents, and their children laughed and clapped throughout the show on opening night.
Each scene change came with a new costume, a new personality, and a new culture. Every scene involved a young woman and man whose choreography was romantic in essence. The background was a whimsical and enchanted forest. The audience reacted most vivaciously at the end, when it was revealed that all of these happenings were in Clara’s dream.
In December of 1892, the first premiere of The Nutcracker was not successful. Tchaikovsky’s instrumental composition which played in the background, however, received good reviews.
The enchanting elements of Tchaikovsky’s music have become recognizable as the signature soundtrack of "The Nutcracker." The ballet has become an annual Christmas tradition that New Englanders look forward to seeing every year.
The New York Times said it best last last year, “‘The Nutcracker’ is and isn’t familiar. You think you’ve known it forever—it’s quoted all across popular culture—and yet you have only to listen to the overture [to recognize it]…”