By Kate Kenney
Boston, MA – The night is both decadent and magical, with grand Christmas trees lining the entrance of the spiral staircase leading to the theater doors of the Boston Opera House, whose walls, dressed in warm golds and deep, velvety reds, and ceiling glittering in ornate gilded designs, are hosting Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, presented by artist director Mikko Nissinen. This evening, its audience will see 182 costumes featuring 200,000 jewels and multiple tutus hand-dipped in gold paint.
In the lobby, signed blush pointe shoes are for sale, scuffed from use and hard work. One pair of shoes is signed wonderfully, “Live What You Love!” by ballerina Dusty Button. The theater itself is majestic, lined with ornate paintings from its original 1928 French and Italian architecture.
The orchestra, led by principal guest conductor Beatrice Jona Affron, opens the performance. The act of hearing a live orchestra perform Tchaikovsky’s soaring melodies is a treat in itself.
The play opens on Christmas Eve in 1820s Germany. The atmosphere on stage is both whimsical and elegant. Large mice in full furry costumes scamper about the stage with an energetic flair. One of the most memorable scenes, for this writer, comes as the clock strikes midnight. The audience looks on in delight as the set background expands to uncover a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, soaring at over 42 feet tall.
The set and costume design were arranged by Robert Perdziola. It is the details of Perdziola’s sets, particularly the snow scene with all its birch-wood majesty, that expectations and imagination are surpassed. In the theater, one’s dreams become realized in a snowy splendor of twirling snowflakes and glittering branches. A night at the Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker will be remembered for years to come, if one can even be sure it wasn’t all just a magnificent dream.
(The next Boston Ballet performance, William Forsythe’s Artifact, takes place February 23 through March 5 at the Boston Opera House. For more information, visit bostonballet.org.)