BAM was very prettily decorated for the holidays and was quite crowded, mostly with families, though our row in the mezzanine was all adults. Everyone behaved themselves, mostly, for which I was very glad. The gent next to me (not IHBB, of course, the other gent!) had to share his encyclopedic knowledge of the dance with his date now and again, but he always stopped just shy of my on-its-way shushing. My holiday spirit was not dampened.
When I opened my playbill, I was so excited, I may have made a little noise! Mark Morris would be performing, too! I was super-excited about that - I love to watch when creators perform in their own creations, there's something very pure and direct about their performances, generally, and they effortlessly get across what they wanted their creation to get across. If that even makes sense.
The Hard Nut premiered in 1991, so it's been around for a long time. I've been doing a little research (had to find a couple of photos!) and it's one of the only versions of The Nutcracker that uses the entire Tchaikovsky score and in the right order. I was glad to read that - there was one scene at the top of the second act that didn't really make sense to me and after reading plot synopses, I see that it was actually part of the original ETA Hoffmann scenario in The Nutcracker and the Mouse-King! After reading that, the second act made way more sense to me. I guess I should've done my research beforehand. Though, I do generally enjoy the first act of The Nutcracker, up until the snowflake ballet, more than the second act, which is more pastiche and divertissement. I do love me some plot.
|photo credit: Stephanie Berger|
After the party, we get to meet the mice, at first represented by mechanized mice, rolling along, with glowing red eyes. When the dream sequences begin, and the tree grows to make Marie appear to shrink, then we see the dancing mice. The soldiers here who fight the mice are GI Joes, which made me laugh. When the Nutcracker comes to life, he is danced by a lovely young man who has a gorgeous pas de deux with Drosselmeier - it's really just lovely and so musical. Then we get to the highlight of the act, at least for me, the waltz of the snowflakes.
|photo credit: Andrea Mohin|
|photo credit: Julieta Cervantes|
I also want to mention that I really appreciated the orchestra, conducted by Colin Fowler. I heard bits and pieces of music that I never really noticed before, so I appreciated the clarity and precision of the conducting and the playing. Some of the embellishments in the music beautifully offset the embellishments in the choreography, and vice versa, so there was a wonderful symbiosis there. I also liked the fluid gender roles in the ballet - men played women, women played men, snowflakes and flowers were both sexes. It was just a happy thing to see, especially in a story about the gradual awakening of an adult, sexual self.
I did wonder how many parents thought to themselves, hey, this is a little, um, MATURE for my kids! I didn't hear any complaints, but the thought crossed my mind. But I found the entire experience to be magical, wonderful and just what I needed to get my holiday spirit going again. After the show, IHBB and I wandered around for a few minutes to find a dinner location; we stumbled upon Scopello, a very nice Italian joint a couple of blocks away. It was very warm and cozy there, with an excellent cocktail menu, an excellent wine menu and an excellent food menu. The trifecta! I opted for the moscato cocktail, which had moscato, tequila, grapefruit and grenadine. It was potent and very tasty. IHBB and I started with the burrata appetizer, which was enormous and delicious. Then I got the panino classico, which had pesto, prosciutto and mozzarella on it. I mean, I haven't had prosciutto since I got back from Italy. It was time. We were pretty full, but we had to get dessert, right? We got the house specialty, cassatelle, which they describe as sweet pasty filled with ricotta cream and chocolate. served hot. Uh, yum! It was sort of like a filled, Italian beignet. Delicious. It seemed like it would've been heavy and too sweet, but it wasn't. But speaking of sweet, IHBB also ordered an after-dinner drink, bombardino, which is zabaglione liqueur. Oh, geez. That was delicious, too! So much deliciousness! The prefect ending to a wonderful afternoon!