Fun Facts About The Nutcracker!

Gee, is it the holiday season yet? We don’t know about you, but here at OBC, December is our favorite month of the year! We keep itching for the weather to start turning cold so we can bust out our sweaters and scarves and hot chocolate (Mmm!)  and peppermint sticks–and, of course, dress up with our family to see The Nutcracker! (In my family, my mother says, “It just doesn’t feel like the holidays without The Nutcracker!”)

For many people, The Nutcracker is a family tradition that comes only once a year–but even for those who see this ballet faithfully every holiday season, I bet there are some tidbits about this ballet that even the most tried-and-true Nutcracker fan would be surprised to know! So, here are some (lesser-known) facts about your family’s favorite ballet!

(Photo credit: David DeSilva)

  • Did you know… that the initial debut of The Nutcracker in St. Petersburg in 1892 was not a success with either the public or critics? (Though it’s now one of the world’s most beloved and popular ballets! And aren’t we all glad that it is now?)
  • Did you know… that The Nutcracker was premiered on a double bill with an opera, Iolanta, both composed by Tchaikovsky?
  • Did you know… that the first U.S. premiere of The Nutcracker was in San Francisco in 1944? (Bay Area pride!)
  • Did you know.. that The Nutcracker was Tchaikovsky’s last ballet, but he never lived to see its success?
  • Did you know… that the pretty, tinkly instrument in the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” is called a celesta? (Be on the look-out though! Tchaikovsky uses the instrument elsewhere in the ballet as well!)
  • Did you know… that the Oakland Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker is based on the E.T.A. Hoffmann original story–but with a twist!–is set in the early 20th century.
  • Did you know… that the costume and set designer for Oakland Ballet’s The Nutcracker, Zack Brown, has won TWO Emmy awards in his career?
  • Did you know… that these boots are the actual ones worn by Drosselmeyer in Act II are over two feet high? (Try dancing in those!)
  • Did you know… that in the past, sports celebrities Roger Craig (of the 49ers), Dave Stewart (of the A’s), an  Shawn Estes (of the Giants) have performed in benefit productions of the OBC’s Nutcracker?
  • Did you know… that the hot air balloon that whisks Marie and the Nutcracker Prince away at the end of Act II is in the shape of a Christmas ornament? (As seen in the photo below!)
  • Did you know… that the snowballs in OBC’s The Nutcracker are just the cutest things ever?

    (Photo Credit: David DeSilva)

(Okay, you got me–that last statement was more of an opinion than a fact! But there’s no denying that our snowballs are some of the cutest around!)

We hope you learned something new about your favorite ballet! Stay tuned for more blog posts, including more interviews with OBC dancers!

And, from everyone here at OBC: Have a safe and a happy Halloween! (But we all know Halloween is just a stepping stone to the best holiday of the year!)

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