Christmas Candy Lands: The Nutcracker

December 14, 2009 at 11:31 am Leave a comment

My family celebrates Christmas at this time of the year. One tradition is the annual SHOW. Some years it was Handel’s Messiah (I love to sing along, especially the loud parts). Other years I’ve taken my daughter to the Julie Taymor production of Mozart’s Magic Flute, a ravishing spectacle at the Metropolitan Opera. And some years we go see the Balanchine staging of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.

Given its checkered history, it is bit surprising that the Nutcracker has become such a fixture on the American holiday scene. The first performance of the ballet was in St. Petersburg in 1892. Although the music itself became extremely popular, the ballet was not a big hit. The work was not performed outside Russia until 1933, and premiered in the U.S. in San Francisco in 1944. But it was not until George Balanchine’s staging for the New York City Ballet that the Nutcracker found its way into America’s heart. From New York City, the ballet and the traditional Christmas season performance slowly spread. Today, every city and town in the U.S. offers some version of the Nutcracker at Christmas time, whether it is the local ballet school recital or the fully staged spectacle with international ballet stars or former Olympic skaters in a "Nutcracker on Ice."

Why is the Nutcracker so popular? You and I both know the reason: its the candy. Once you get through the drama and conflict of the first act, the whole second half is a celebration of sweetness. There is Marzipan, Chocolate, the Candy Canes, Mother Ginger and the Ponchinelles, and of course the Sugar Plum Fairy.

These are sketches for set designs for the 1892 staging. In the Balanchine version, the Kingdom of Sweets looks even more candy-licious. Why not spend a wintery hour imagining yourself in a candy kingdom?


Entry filed under: Holidays. Tags: , .

Some Candies You Won’t Be Making for the Holidays Poetry and Candy Lands, 1875

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Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure

Welcome to Candy Professor

Candy in American Culture What is it about candy? Here you'll find the forgotten, the strange, the curious, the surprising. Our candy story, one post at a time.

(C) Samira Kawash

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