Once again it is that time of year for a beloved holiday tradition. For decades, many communities have
come together to delight in sugarplum fairies dancing across the stage to the enchanting sounds of the Russian composer, Peter
Ilyitch Tschaikovsky. The captivating and charming story will bring adults and children to the San Francisco War Memorial
Opera House for this season's The Nutcracker. The performances run throughout the month of December (11-29) at the San Francisco
War Memorial Opera House: Wednesday, December 11 at 7:00 PM; Thursday, December 12 at 7:00 PM, Friday; December 13 at 2:00
PM and 7:00 PM; Saturday, December 14 at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM; Sunday, December 15 at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM; Wednesday, December
18 at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM; Thursday, December 19 at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM; Friday, December 20 at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM; Saturday,
December 21 at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM; Sunday, December 22 at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM; Monday, December 23 at 2:00 PM AND 7:00 PM;
Tuesday, December 24 at 11:00 AM and 4:00 PM; Thursday, December 26 at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM; Friday, December 27 at 2:00 PM
and 7:00 PM; Saturday, December 28 at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM; and Sunday, December 29 at 7:00 PM. The San Francisco Ballet magnificent
production of The Nutcracker breathes new life into Tschaikovsky's score as its beautifully costumed cast of world-class dancers
jete and bourree across the ornately designed set in what many refer to as "a uniquely San Francisco Nutcraker."
delightfully entrancing ballet score and magnificently designed sets are essential to illuminate the endearingly simple and
classic story of The Nutcracker. The Artistic Director of the San Francisco Ballet, Helgi Tomasson, re-envisioned the story
for its San Francisco audience. The story takes place on Christmas Eve, but is set in 1915 San Francisco during the World's
Fair. The story starts when the main character, Clara, is given a nutcracker doll by a mysterious toy maker who appears during
a holiday celebration at her Victorian era "painted lady" home. The nutcracker comes to life and is transformed into a handsome
prince, while Clara magically becomes a full-grown woman. The nutcracker escorts Clara on an incredible journey to the from
the Pavilion of Dreams to far off lands. The Pavilion is created to look like the Golden Gate Park's Conservatory of Flowers,
while the stops during their journey are representative of the exhibits found at the 1915 World Fair. The curtains close with
the enthralling tale ending as magically as it begins. The audience is left wondering if it was only a dream.
December 18, 1892, The Nutcracker first debuted at the Maryinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia. It was performed by the
Kirov Ballet and double premiered with lolanta, the last known opera Tchaikovsy wrote. The Nutcracker was an adaptation of
a story written by the German writer, composter, caricaturist and painter E.T.A. Hoffman in 1816. The original story was called
The Nutcracker and the Mouse King and was a much darker fairytale. While the modern day and popular versions of The Nutcracker
are frequently attended by families, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King was intended for an adult audience. The Hoffman Nutcracker
was rewritten by the French writer Alexandre Dumas and was transformed into a light-hearted version to appeal to children.
Fittingly, Marius Petipa, a French-born dancer and chief master of the Russian Imperial Ballet, set out to choreograph a ballet
of the Dumas version. It almost seems that fate led to Lev Ivanov choreographing it with music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Petipa was the primary choreographer at the Maryinsky and chief master, but he gave Ivanov the opportunity to act as choreographer.
According to one story, the impetus for this opportunity is that Petipa was unwell and passed it along to his assistant.
and Tchaikovsky had a history of collaboration, working together to bring audiences what have become some of the most beloved
and well-known ballets, such as Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake. In spite of this past, Tchaikovsky was not keen on accepting
the commission to write The Nutcracker score. Following its completion, Tchaikovsky was even less impressed with his work.
The Nutcracker is now become an essential holiday must-see; however, it was not warmly received by its original Petersburg
audience. It has been said that the ballet did not discover popularity until the New York staging by George Balanchine in
1954, but American audiences initially discovered the story during William Christensen's full-length production at the San
Francisco Ballet at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House in 1944. Now, audiences can see Tomasson's adaptation at the
site of its original showing in the United States of America.
The San Francisco Ballet is
one of the oldest ballet companies in the United States of America, founded in 1933. It presently has 18 principal dancers,
3 principal character dancers, 13 soloist, 34 dancers in its corps de ballet. Again, the score is composed by Peter Ilyich
Tchaicovsky and is choreographed by Helgi Tomasson. The beautifully envisioned stage and its characters are transformed throughout
this unique adaptation by the work of Michael Yeargan (Scenic Design), Martin Pakledinaz (Costume Design), James F. Ingalls
(Lighting Design) and Wendall K. Harrington (Projection Design). Martin West directs the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, an
incredibly adept ensemble.