Strange as it sounds, The Nutcracker wasn’t an immediate hit when it debuted in St. Petersburg in 1892. Critics of the time complained about some chaotic choreography and the use of children in the dance. The ballet was the back half of a double bill with Tchaikovsky’s opera Iolanta, too, and it was midnight by the time the prima ballerina had her first solo, so no wonder the critics were a bit grouchy. The composer only found success with the work as an orchestral suite, which kept the music alive until San Francisco Ballet had a huge hit with it in 1944 and George Balanchine started to make the piece a Christmas tradition in New York the following decade.
Ben Stevenson’s version of the holiday classic returns to the Bass Hall stage this weekend for its annual residence. Maybe this won’t be as much fun as the burlesque version of the ballet going on in Dallas next week, but it’ll have the customary “Nutty Nutcracker” performance on the 16th and more traditional performances going on right up until Christmas Eve.
The Nutcracker runs Dec 9-24 at Bass Performance Hall, 555 Commerce St, FW. Tickets are $20-135. Call 817-212-4280.