The poetry that is ‘The Nutcracker’

While the ballet is not based on a poem, it is poetic nevertheless.

It is, in fact, a loose adaptation of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s 1816 story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. First performed at St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre in December 1892, The Nutcracker has become a Christmas classic over the years, transporting audiences from across generations to the Land of The Sugar Plum Fairy.

The 2022 Ballet Philippines’ full-length production of The Nutcracker honours the legacy of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s music, with a live accompaniment by the Manila Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Marlon Chen.

After three years away from the proscenium, I’m glad to have returned to the magic of theatre with some friends. Sitting in an opera box offers a unique experience of the show. The elevation provides a broader perspective of the scenes and the angle allows one to see the orchestra–from down the pit–in full action. Such a view reveals to the audience the masterful coordination between the music and the lovely movements on stage.

Each twirl on stage corresponds to an excellent treatment of musicality, similar to how each verse in a poem mesh with rhythm to produce a good prosody. In the words of BP Artistic Director Mikhail Martynyuk, “Every scene is built precisely to the rhythm of the composer’s work.”

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