Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Opera Wednesday

By Paul Drew

OK, it may not be an opera, but The Nutcracker* is a glorious piece of music from a man who knew a thing or two about opera, Tchaikovsky.**

*Mistakenly referred to by many as the "Nutcracker Suite." The next time you hear someone do that, remember a suite is a collection of orchestral pieces assembled from a larger work. There are different "Nutcracker Suites," depending on which pieces are selected to comprise the suite (just as there are many orchestral suites drawn from larger pieces, such as Wagnerian operas), but the collective body of music is "The Nutcracker." Period. There is no such thing as the "Nutcracker Suite Ballet."

**Yes, I know that Tchaikovsky hated The Nutcracker, or at least greatly preferred his music from Sleeping Beauty, but it's still glorious.

Well, let's get back to the point. The Grand Pas de Deux is, to my thinking, perhaps the most Tchaikovsian of the Nutcracker dances. Here, from a 1968 television performance, is the great Russian dancer Rudolph Nureyev along with Dame Merle Park. The opening introduction is by Dame Ninette de Valois.

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