Tonight’s program offers a familiar musical work in a somewhat unconventional context. Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker has become a beloved holiday classic, especially in the United States, where Christmastime presentations of the ballet have become a cherished tradition for performers and audiences alike.
In contrast to this special status today, The Nutcracker was originally composed as the second half of a double bill, paired with Tchaikovsky’s opera Iolanta. The ballet was subsequently adapted into a shorter suite that is often performed by orchestras, but the complete score of the ballet is rarely presented as a standalone concert experience.
This performance thus represents an opportunity to hear the music anew and also appreciate the complex history of The Nutcracker, which as originally conceived—and for many decades after its premiere—had little, if anything, to do with holiday traditions.