After 37 years with the San Francisco Ballet, this is Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson's final season with the company. Fittingly, it is his production of Nutcracker – which he set in San Francisco – which will be the first production to go on before live audiences since lockdown when, from 10-13 December, 29 performances will be given.
It is with great pleasure that we return to live performances of Nutcracker after 21 months away from our home stage. Setting this production in 1915, I wanted to capture the hope, progress, and civic pride felt by San Franciscans following the 1906 earthquake. It is in a similar spirit that we approach this year's Nutcracker and the 2022 Season as our company, staff, and audiences emerge from this period of historic change.
These performances mark San Francisco Ballet's return to the newly restored War Memorial Opera House since it became the first US cultural organisation to cancel performances due to the pandemic.
Tony Award-winning designer Martin Pakledinaz created the costumes in 2004 with sets by Michael Yeargan inspired by San Francisco's ‘Painted Ladies', the city's highly coloured Victorian houses.
San Francisco Ballet, founded in 1933, was the first American company to present a full-length production of Nutcracker and paved the way for the work to become an American holiday classic. The company was also the first to perform full-length productions of Swan Lake and Coppélia.
Interim Executive Director, Danielle St Germain-Gordon, said,
In preparing for in-person performances, the health and safety of our audiences, dancers, musicians, and staff were a foremost priority. Through diligent collaboration with the team at the War Memorial and Performing Arts Center and the City of San Francisco, we are delighted to be able to safely share this holiday tradition with San Franciscans and visitors alike.
Performers for each of Nutcracker's performances who are 12 or older will all be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Patrons 12 years and older will be required to show a photo ID alongside proof of vaccination to enter the War Memorial Opera House and children under 12 must provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test result. All patrons must wear a mask while in the opera house.
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.