Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
This weekend I went to a beautiful rendition of The Nutcracker performed by ballet west.
This was my first time seeing the story in ballet form however the storyline was easy for me to
follow. The story begins with an extremely happy sounding polyphonic texture as all the guests
arrive at the home for the dinner/Christmas party at the Stahlbaum residence. The dancing
mimics the joyful sound of the music as a large number of ballet dancers appear on stage. Many
of these ballet dancers were under the age of 10 which I found to be quite amazing. The star of
the show is a little girl named Clara. Her grand father comes over while all the festivities are
going on and gives a nutcracker to Clara. She parades the nutcracker all around for everyone to
see and there is much rejoicing. Again, the music is reflecting this as it is happening.
After all the guests leave the music quiets down and Clara is seen getting up from bed to
go play with her nutcracker. Almost as soon as she picks the toy up and begins to play with it,
the nutcracker turns into a life-size Nutcracker. At the same time the rat theme is introduced and
huge rats come on stage. The Nutcracker fights with the Mouse King and I noticed that the motif
the orchestra was playing when the Nutcracker first came on stage seemed to clash with the
motif for the rats. This reminded me very much of how the themes clash in Romeo and Juliet.
The fight ends with Clara throwing her shoe at the Mouse King; while he is distracted, the
Nutcracker “stabs” the Mouse King with his sword.
After the fight, very peaceful sounding music accompanies the Nutcrackers
transformation into a handsome prince. The prince then leads Clara on a magical journey to the
kingdom of the Sugar Plum Fairy. During this time I remember that all the instruments in the
orchestra seemed to be playing. I heard flute, trumpet, violin, bells, timpani and much more. As
was most of the score, I believe this part was in the major mode. While on the way to visit the
Sugar Plum Fairy Queen, they pass through the land of the Snow Queen and her Prince. Once
there the children came back out on stage and began dancing. One of the children did several
back-handsprings across the stage and everyone cheered. I must say this was the youngest child
I have ever seen do a back hand-spring. After this scene the Performance breaks for
Act two begins in the land of the Sugar Plum fairies. Here Clara is entertained by an
array of dancers including Russian dancers that did typical Russian dancing. That is, close to the
ground while kicking their legs up. The music was such and was typical of what one might
expect from the dancing. At this point I got a little caught up in the dancing and would have to
say this was my favorite part of the performance. In the second act I heard much of the music
that is played during Christmas time in shopping malls, airports etc. It really brought me back to
my childhood and made me think of the cartoon version of the story that I watched as a kid. The
story ends with Clara waking up and realizing that it was all a dream. The Sugar Plum Fairy
Queen and Clara got bouquets of flowers after the show and I thought this was extremely cute
because Clara seemed to be under the age of 10. Good for her! I did enjoy this performance
very much. I think I will be going again next year.