Taking the "Nutcracker" Seriously or Not
Posted 27 October 2001 - 12:28 PM
In this reading, Drosselmeyer is a threatining figure, but also a curiously benign one. At the family's party, we first see a heated rivalry between the siblings -- certainly agression -- but one which does not exceed the boundaries of the polite or the cute.
Then, as the evil genius of the party, Drosselemeyer first introduces the curious Nutcracker man -- a kind of double or doppleganger for his nephew, who will become the child prince.
After this, as the evil genius of Marie's dream, Drosselmeyer through sympathetic magic makes the childlike world expand (at least in the City Ballet production, which is I think based upon the 19th century Maryinsky?) until he introduces a war between the rats or mice (which are they?)and the toy soldiers -- which is a mock war for the adult audience, but a fearful one for Marie.
All of which is resolved when the Nutcracker turns into boy Prince (with a kind of precocious sublimation of Marie's pre-adolescent sexuality hinted at?) and utterly defeats evil and fear. This is also quite like how romantic love, in the person of Prince Desire, resolves the drama in Sleeping Beauty, except that in the Nutcracker it is a caricature.
The Nutcracker is thus a sort toy version of Sleeping Beauty. Beauty absorbed into the bourgeois entertainment of a North European Christmas.
I may be "Nuts" for looking for at it this way but, post 9/11, a "curiously benign" dramatic representation of the fearful will be most welcome to me.
[ October 27, 2001: Message edited by: Michael1 ]
Posted 27 October 2001 - 04:05 PM
Read to your children, parents. Read with them when they are older.
Much "folk literature," not to mention fairy tales *are* dark.....it is a manageable way for children to deal with things they feel or learn.
[ October 27, 2001: Message edited by: Juliet ]
Posted 27 October 2001 - 04:31 PM
Posted 28 October 2001 - 12:44 AM
Posted 28 October 2001 - 12:08 AM
It's such a popular ballet because of the Christmas theme and because of the fact that it uses a lot of chilren and can easily lend itself to being done by a small company that can use students from the local ballet school/company-associated school in many different types of roles. It also lends itself to being choreographed in a way that can accomodate dancers at different levels.
Posted 28 October 2001 - 08:05 AM
One of the greatest dangers in staging this seemingly harmless Christmas fable is coming up with a bland, or worse, a sour version.
Posted 30 October 2001 - 10:07 AM
I've been looking for a good translation of Hoffman's Nutcracker for years but haven't found one. Does his story differ from the "book" of the ballet? If so, how?
Hoffman has always seemed one of the quintessential examples of German romanticism to me. And, given romanticism's central idea that northern, indigenous, "nationalistic" myths, legends and folk tales could be as fit subjects for high art as the the Greco-Roman myths in which the Rennaissance had discovered its artistic material -- the Nutcracker becomes very interesting. In that context it's a kind of exploration of the Pagan, pre-Christian myths and traditions that underlie Christmas and a resonant dialogue between the two traditions.
During Marie's Christmas-eve sleep, folk tale figures and personae from the Northern pre-Christian past thus keep popping up and invading the Christmas holiday -- just as the Christmas tree itself had a pagan, pre-Christian significance and the pundits say the Christmas itself had a precursor as a winter solstice festival.
It's the dialogue between the two and how it gets resolved that makes this ballet dramatically vital.
[ October 30, 2001: Message edited by: Michael1 ]
Posted 30 October 2001 - 10:26 AM
I'll try to find the story. I think I have it at home.
Posted 30 October 2001 - 11:00 AM
Ballet isn't supposed to be realistic. It's an abstraction -- all fine art is an abstraction, I would argue. The content in "Nutcracker" -- and "Concerto Barocco" -- is not in its story, but in its form (the poetry of its structure and its steps).
Posted 30 October 2001 - 03:57 PM
I always thought Princess Pirlipat would be a good name for a cat. Very apt.
Posted 30 October 2001 - 10:56 PM
Why not have the mice just eat Clara and be done with it?
You didn't see a new Mariinsky version yet !
Posted 12 December 2001 - 05:35 PM
[ December 12, 2001: Message edited by: Jameth ]
Posted 12 December 2001 - 07:22 PM
Posted 12 December 2001 - 10:51 PM
Posted 15 December 2007 - 03:38 AM
Also, here is a passage from "Automata" which relates to The Nutcracker.
"I must tell you," said Lewis, "that the moment I went into the room the figure reminded me of a most delightful nutcracker which a cousin of mine once gave me at Christmas when I was a little boy. The little fellow had the gravest and most comical face ever seen, and when he had a hard nut to crack there was some arrangement inside him which made him roll his great eyes, which projected far out of his head, and this gave him such an absurdly lifelike effect that I could play with him for hours. In fact, in my secret soul, I almost thought he was real. All the marionettes I have seen since then, however perfect, I have thought stiff and lifeless compared to my glorious nutcracker."
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