Saturday, December 24

The Nutcracker? Sweet!

I have to laugh whenever I hear my friend Samantha Parkington talk about The Nutcracker since she was only 9 in 1904 and it premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia on Friday, Dec. 18, 1892.

I know she's rich but old enough and rich enough to go to Russia? Sheesh.

For Christmas, Samantha longed for the beautiful doll she saw in the window of Schofield’s Toy Store. It’s made of porcelain with movable arms and legs. Her hair is tied back in a big pink bow that matches her ruffly party dress. In her arms she carries a tiny wooden nutcracker—the perfect Christmas doll.

The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. (The libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann's 1816 story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.)

The original production was not a success.

So when did The Nutcracker make it to the U.S.?

A short version of the ballet, performed by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, was staged in New York City in 1940 by Alexandra Fedorova.

The ballet's first complete United States performance was on Dec. 24, 1944, by the San Francisco Ballet. The New York City Ballet gave its first annual performance of George Balanchine's staging of The Nutcracker in 1954. Beginning in the 1960s, the tradition of performing the complete ballet at Christmas eventually spread to the rest of the United States.

Wait a minute! Do you think Samantha's the same Samantha I met in St. Louis? Maybe she became a time traveler, too!

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