In December 1944, San Francisco ballet staged its first production of 'The Nutcracker' - and not only was this the first time that the ballet had been performed in the City, this was an American premiere as well. Choreographed by William Christensen, then Director of the Company, the ballet was based on the original Mariinsky production.
Some 60 years later, Helgi Tomasson - Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer of San Francisco Ballet - created a new production for the Company - and one that belongs uniquely to San Francisco. Tomasson set his ballet against a backdrop of one of the most colorful chapters in the history of the City - the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition.
The production opens onto a street of typical San Francisco houses, in one of which the Stahlbaums are hosting their Christmas Eve party. There, a mysterious magician presents Clara with the nutcracker doll which - transformed into a prince - will take her on her magical journey around the world.
Clara’s first delight is her arrival in the Garden of the Pavilion of Dreams - surely taking its inspiration from San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers - where she’s surrounded by gorgeous blossoms and butterflies. From there she travels through a breathtaking wonderland of snow - a scene acknowledged worldwide as one of the most impressive ever staged - to the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy, who calls on a succession of dancers to entertain her young guests with character dances from some of the most colorful parts of the world.
Waking once more in her bed, Clara cannot help but be overawed by the wondrous dream which she’s experienced, a sentiment which the audience will surely share.
San Francisco Ballet’s The Nutcracker runs at the War Memorial Opera House until December 29. For further information and tickets, please visit the San Francisco Ballet website.
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