Rumor has it that Pyotr Tchaikovsky wasn’t that interested in writing the music for the Nutcracker Ballet. The story was originally titled “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” by E.T.A. Hoffmann. It had been adapted by Alexandre Dumas père when Tchaikovsky was hired to write the music in 1890.
Maybe it was because he had just finished writing a ballet about Cinderella, a beautiful, exploited young woman who finds her way to fame and glory by marrying a handsome prince. Somehow, writing music for a dancing kitchen utensil just didn’t seem that exciting. But, thankfully, Pyotr persevered. The result was the most pupular Christmas ballet in history and the sale of millions of nutcrackers every Christmas that couldn’t crack a nut if their life depended on it (but they can dance around and kill a mouse king…). If you don’t believe me about the most popular ballet thing, check here: Nutcracker Performances, it lists performances in all 50 states and nine countries outside the U.S.
We took the kids to see The Nutcracker this weekend – and I have to admit, it was great. I probably should mention that we left the three year old at home, and toward the end, my five year old son wanted to crawl out of his own skin (The only way I kept him from running up the aisle was by telling him that a pirate ship was going to come crashing through the wall any minute…when he asked me at the end why it never did, I said, “That must be in Swan Lake, I always get those confused…”)
BUT in spite of that, for well over half the show, both kids were enthralled. And why not? This show has it all. Big scary mice, a creepy old man, a castle made of candy, a seemingly random mix of dances from different cultures (The Spanish dance, the Arabian dance, the Chinese dance, the Russian Dance, the Dance of the Reed-Flutes (from Reedflutia), the Dance of the Shepherdesses and so on…)
AND, if all that’s not enough, the Trans Siberian Orchestra has given us a rocking version of the Nutcracker Suite music to run around the house and pretend like we’re ballerinas after the show. I have to hand it to the TSO, it features amped up guitar solos that children of 80’s metal/glam bands love: Nutcracker Guitar Solo as well as being true enough to the original to keep the classical music lover in me happy: Nutcracker Intro
So, take your kids to see the nutcracker, pick up a copy of the Trans Siberian Orchestra’s Nutcracker Suite and start the holiday season right!