George Balanchine's The Nutcracker opens the ballet season at La Scala. The new production has sets and costumes by Italian designer Margherita Palli.
15 December 2018: Preview performance for young people
16, 19, 20, 29, 30 December 2018
3, 4, 10, 12 (2 perfs.), 15 January 2019
George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®
Sets and costumes – Margherita Palli
Lights – Marco Filibeck
Conductor – Michail Jurowski
Balanchine's The Nutcracker is being presented for the first time at La Scala, but also for the first time in Italy.
La Scala's ballet company has been collaborating with the Balanchine Trust over previous seasons with new productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Jewels.
The 11 performances run from 16 December to 15 January, with a preview performance for young people.
Among the 130 artists involved will be Mick Zeni alternating with Alessandro Grillo as Herr Drosselmeyer; the Sugarplum Fairy and her Cavalier will be danced by Nicoletta Manni and Timofej Andrijashenko, Martina Arduino and Nicola Del Freo, and the young dancers Caterina Bianchi and Mattia Semperboni.
Margherita Palli has created a fable revisiting the places and the atmospheres of the version of the New York City Ballet. Starting from the romantic tradition has revised the fairy world through the colours of Maxfield Parrish, the American artist specialized in refined illustrations that play with fairy-tales and dreams.
The action takes place at the beginning of the nineteenth century though Palli has played with time and countries, with small vintage references and different styles to recreate an atmosphere of memories and dreams. Mr Stahlbaum's house is therefore not in Germany but in Villa Drayton Hall near Charleston, South Carolina., a mix of centuries and styles.
Balanchine's The Nutcracker has been staged in New York every year since it was first performed in 1954, filmed once, and performed live on television three times. The 1957 telecast was the first time that a production of Nutcracker was shown on television.
In 2015, Vanity Fair wrote,
With The Nutcracker, the connection was emotional. Balanchine had gone from boy to man in this ballet. As a youth on that imperial stage in St Petersburg he had danced the roles of a mouse, the Nutcracker/Little Prince, and the Mouse King. As a young adult he was dazzling as the jester with a hoop, choreography he would lift straight into his 1954 production and rename Candy Cane. Not only was he exacting about how his dancers should move through the hoop… When, in the early 50s, Morton Baum, then chairman of City Center's finance committee and a guardian angel to NYCB, asked Balanchine to choreograph the Nutcracker Suite, a popular abridgment of Tchaikovsky's score, Balanchine answered, “If I do anything, it will be full-length and expensive.”
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.