What’s “The Nutcracker” really about? Within its tale of children, the magician godfather Drosselmeyer, snow and sweets, the most striking images are ones of metamorphosis. In a famous scene worthy of Lewis Carroll’s Alice books, the Christmas tree grows colossal, and the children’s toys return to the stage, human size and alive.
This is only the first of the ballet’s transformations. After the battle between mice and soldiers — which has the most transporting music in Tchaikovsky’s entire ballet — the world onstage changes, from urban nursery indoors to huge snowy landscape outdoors, and the young hero is suddenly transformed from a Nutcracker into a prince.
You can stage these changes in many ways. Just how many is something I, a European who has resided in the United States for less than four years, kept marveling about in November and December on a marathon tour in which I saw 27 different “Nutcracker” productions around the country.
Follow the Times’ link to read his interpretations and opinions. He finishes poetically:
During this “Nutcracker” marathon I saw the Hudson Valley in late-fall foliage glory from an ideal vantage point at West Point; a distant snowstorm over the Rockies from a quiet sunlit afternoon in Denver; the Atlantic from the gardens of the Rosecliff mansion in Newport, R.I., where “The Great Gatsby” was filmed; the Mississippi from Memphis. And I swam in the open air after a matinee in Phoenix. Meanwhile reports arrived of other wonderful productions I should have seen in Sacramento, in Los Angeles, in Kansas City, Mo. — all over the country in fact. How could I not hope to see as many other “Nutcrackers” around America in the future?
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.