Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet The Nutcracker will be staged at the Opera House in downtown HCMC early next month - PHOTO: COURTESY OF HBSO



And so it comes as no surprise that HBSO is mounting three performances of Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet on December 6, 7 and 8 (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) at the Opera House in downtown HCMC, beginning at 8 p.m.

A nutcracker is a small hand-held device for cracking nuts. The reason it’s the title for a full-length ballet is that at a Christmas party in a big house in Germany a magician and toy-maker, Mr Drosselmeyer, arrives and presents Clara, the daughter of the house’s owner, with four life-like dolls (who proceed to dance for the guests), plus a wooden nutcracker carved in the shape of a man.

After the guests have departed, Clara returns to the scene of the party. There she sees mice filling the room, the Christmas tree growing to an enormous height, and the nutcracker grown to human size and transformed into a prince.

The Prince, joined by soldiers made of gingerbread (a traditional Christmas food in Germany) and some tin soldiers, battles against the mice, led by the Mouse King. The Mouse King is killed by the Prince after Clara throws a slipper at him.

Later, Clara is taken on a tour of magical lands, led by the Prince (the Nutcracker transformed). First they visit a pine forest at night, where snow is falling. This beautiful scene has become a classic emblem for the Christmas season. The snowflakes dance, inviting Clara to visit the Prince’s kingdom.

They arrive at a Land of Sweets, ruled over by the Sugar Plum Fairy. There they see dances representing chocolate from Spain, coffee from Arabia, tea from China and candy canes from Russia.

In addition, Danish shepherdesses perform on flutes, Mother Ginger produces her dancing children from under her skirts, and some flowers perform a waltz.

Finally, the Sugar Plum Fairy dances to famous music in which the celesta, an instrument specially brought into the orchestra by Tchaikovsky for this ballet, features prominently.

Back home, Clara wakes from her sleep under the Christmas tree, and thinks that perhaps it was all a dream.

Tchaikovsky’s ballet was premiered in 1892. Though no great success at that time, it has since become a popular favorite world-wide.

Clara will be danced by Do Hoang Khang Ninh. The Nutcracker will be Meritorious Artist Ho Phi Diep, and Mr Drosselmeyer (easily identified by his black cloak) by Meritorious Artist Dam Duc Nhuan.

The Sugar Plum Fairy will be danced by Meritorious Artist Tran Hoang Yen, while the Snow Queen will be Yuki Hiroshige.

HBSO’s Nutcracker was created by the Norwegian choreographer Johanne Jakhelln Constant as part of the Vietnam-Norway Transposition program, and was first seen in HCMC in 2011.

Constant was also responsible for the costume design, the scenery and the props. The stage manager will be Nguyen Manh Duy Linh.

The HBSO orchestra and the HBSO female choir will take part once again in this celebrated and sumptuous production. The conductor will be Tran Nhat Minh.

Tickets are VND450,000-900,000, with a student concession of VND150,000 on production of a student card. SGT

Bradley Winterton