The centerpiece of the Treasure Valley’s holiday arts season is almost surely Ballet Idaho’s production of “The Nutcracker.” It’s ballet in the grand style as Artistic Director Peter Anastos fills the stage with whimsical sets, beautiful ballerinas, dashing cavaliers and energetic performances by dozens of area children performing to Tchaikovsky’s timeless score played by the Boise Philharmonic.
It’s based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s tale about a young girl named Clara who receives a mechanical Nutcracker Doll at her family’s Christmas party. This year, look closely at the party. After midnight, the mechanical turns magical, the family’s Christmas tree grows and the dolls come to life to battle the evil Mouse King.
Clara rescues the Nutcracker Prince and embarks on a journey to the Land of Sweets, filled with Dancing Angels, Flowers, Dew Drops, Salt Water Taffy Sailors, Bakers, the beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy and other confections.
“The Nutcracker” is a tradition in the Treasure Valley and in communities large and small across the country. Interestingly, when the ballet made is debut at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1892, it bombed.
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It turned out to be Tchaikovsky’s last completed ballet score, and he died believing it a failure. It didn’t really get its due until George Balanchine, who appeared in a “Nutcracker” when he was a boy, revived it successfully in 1954 for his New York City Ballet, casting young dancers as Clara and Fritz, and creating multiple roles for children.
Today, “The Nutcracker,” with its memorable score, is performed by hundreds of ballet companies, making it easily the most seen and performed ballet in the country.
Ballet Idaho’s ‘The Nutcracker’
8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16 (only single seats available); 2 p.m. (only single seats available) and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17; noon and 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18, Morrison Center, 2201 Cesar Chavez Lane, Boise. $38, $43 and $58. Ticketmaster.com. Find more information at BalletIdaho.org.
Get a Handel on the holiday
Get a few more hallelujahs in this season with Serenata Community Orchestra’s “Sing-along, Play-along Messiah,” led by Music Director Jennifer Drake.
Drake decided to make her “Messiah” an interactive community event to help fill a void for people who love to play classical music.
“We have all these amazing public school and college programs for music and plenty of people who love to play, but there isn’t a next logical step,” Drake says
This is a great way to experience classical music and feel the community spirit of the holidays. It’s free to play and listen, but if you want to participate, you need to register. Then bring your voice or your instrument and join the fun. And you can just go to listen, too.
You also can donate to the Boise Schools Instrument Fund, which helps repair and acquire instruments for students.
‘Sing-along, Play-along Messiah’
6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at Summit Church, 10375 W. Overland Road, Boise. Free. Register to participate at SummitChurchBoise.org/messiah-sing.
Nampa’s DreamWeaver Theatre will celebrate the holidays with “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus,” a musical based on the real-life story of 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon, who wrote a letter to the editor at the now-defunct New York Sun to ask if Santa Claus really exists. The published answer became the title of a book, play and now a musical with music and lyrics by David Kirchenbaum and a book by Myles McDonnel.
The performance benefits Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Idaho. Bring your letter to Santa and place it in the Macy’s mailbox. The company will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish for every letter.
‘Yes, Virginia the Musical’