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Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013

‘Nutcracker’ a la Pink

Milwaukee Ballet stages the holiday favorite

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Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet of 1892 is based upon Alexandre Dumas’ adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s tale of little Clara and her magical Christmas gift of a nutcracker in the form of a soldier. With its ethnic dances, Waltz of the Flowers and Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, The Nutcracker is replete with delightful music, lovely themes and brilliant orchestration. Tchaikovsky may have sought few innovations in his works, but his best music possesses great melodic charm.

It’s also one of classical music’s most familiar works. Since joining the Milwaukee Ballet in 2002 as artistic director, the internationally known choreographer Michael Pink has breathed new life into tried and true traditions. Of those, what first comes to mind is the Ballet’s annual holiday chestnut, The Nutcracker. Under Pink, four children go to the magical land of dreams, not just Clara. The Sugar Plum Fairy is eliminated but with Karl and Marie dancing the part, and other nips and tweaks are made to expand the range of expressive movement while keeping true to the story’s classic form.

The Milwaukee Ballet performs The Nutcracker Dec. 14-27, at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, 929 N. Water St. For tickets, visit milwaukeeballet.org or call 414-902-2103.

 

Classical Happenings

 

Voices of the Season

Bel Canto Chorus presents its annual “Christmas in the Basilica” concert, Dec. 14-15 at the Basilica of St. Josaphat, 2333 S. Sixth St. This year’s program features familiar hymns as well as compositions by John Rutter, Morten Lauridsen and Frances Williams, along with an original piece by Bel Canto’s music director Richard Hynson. The Chorus and Boy Choirs will be accompanied by Stained Glass Brass and organist Kevin Bailey. For tickets, visit belcanto.org or call 414-481-8801.

On Saturday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m., the Milwaukee Children’s Choir presents “An Evening of Readings & Carols” at the Cathedral Church of All Saints, 818 E. Juneau Ave. The MCC’s Concert Choir and Youth Chorale with organist Christopher Berry will perform works by Johann Michael Haydn and Rutter. At 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 15, the students of MCC (grades 1-12) sing holiday favorites at Milwaukee Area Technical College’s Cooley Auditorium, 700 W. State St. For tickets, visit milwaukeechildrenschoir.org or call 414-221-7040.

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