Nutcracker Opens World of Dreams for New Year Celebrations

By: Nour El-Hoda Fouad and Maydaa Abo El-Nadar

CAIRO, Jan. 4 (SEE)-The Nutcracker two-act ballet show is always related to Christmas feasts. Thus, the Cairo Opera House is always keen on presenting it amongst the Christmas’s shows.

The Nutcracker is choreographed by French Marius Petipa and Russian Lev Ivanov. Libretto is adapted by French Alexandre Dumas Père, from German Ernst Hoffmann’s novella “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”. Music is composed by legendary Russian Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky. In 1891, a week before 1892’s Christmas, director of the Moscow’s Imperial Theaters Ivan Vsevolozhsky commissioned the Nutcracker. The Nutcracker’s first performance outside Russia was in England in 1934. About ten years later, in 1944, it was preformed for the first time in the USA.

Worth noting is that what made the Nutcracker related to Christmas is the story’s atmosphere of the Christmas and the New Year Feasts that include the following scenes: snow falling, presenting gifts, the famous Christmas tree, celebrating the New Year’s Eve by which the show’s first act starts. The story is about young girl Clara awakening to a new year, a new world full of pleasant surprises, romantic love, and wonderful future.

The show’s first scene was a prestigious Christmas celebration, held by Clara’s father, Stahlbaum. During the celebration magician Drosselmeyer entertains guests with his magic tricks, and then he gives Clara the Nutcracker doll. After dancing, exchanging gifts and congratulations, all guests left and Clara went to sleep. When she was checking on her doll, it turned out that the Nutcracker was not just a doll, but a creature with a soul and full of life, as Clara found it climbing the Christmas tree. It was even battling against the mice that previously had tried to attack Clara. While Clara was keeping an eye on the battle from behind the chair, the Nutcracker triumphed.

Suddenly, Clara turned to a lady and the Nutcracker to a handsome young man. Drosselmeyer was watching the two lovers who started a love story at a snow forest. The two lovers continued their journey till they reached a candy city. There, they met: Chocolate, represented by the smooth Spanish dance; Coffee, represented by the warm and mysterious oriental dance; Tea, introduced by Chinese dance that is characterized by its steady movements; and Matroshka dolls, introduced by Russian dance. The journey is concluded by scenes that depict happiness, where both lovers are surrounded by different couples. Clara was surrounded by eternal happiness, refusing its end.

Narrating the story without dialogues between performers, not even a single word, the show depends on ballet, music, decoration, and illumination. So expressing the story, its evolution, and the performers’ feelings, was not, by any means, an easy task. Thus, the way to transmit messages to spectators was through the dancing movements. This is why the dancing team’s duty was of the utmost importance. In addition, decoration served to express important scenes such as the snowfall.

During the two-hour show, audiences were enjoying expressive rhythms that depicted the story’s soul. Sometimes music took the audience to a celebration, other times it carried them with the dancers to magical places.

The show did not overlook the drama side that included the scenes of Clara’s brother, Fritz, breaking her doll as he felt jealous; and the nightmare’s scene that showed Clara’s lover was leaving her while the killed mouse was appearing.

Maybe spectators would doubt some dances’ significance, especially if they had not have read about the story. To prevent ambiguity, before the show started, brochures that clarified: the story, its events, the performers’ names, and a historical background about the Nutcracker, were being distributed outside for free. Maybe spectators would feel that some dances are redundant, but they would spot their message during the second act that concludes with an exaggerating greeting by dancers to spectators.

The Cairo Opera House presented the Nutcracker on 26, 27, 28, and 29 December. The two-hour show started at 8:00 pm and after the first act it was interrupted by a break. On the 30th of December, the show was presented at 11:30 am (without orchestra).

Conductor, artistic director, and director were: Ahmed Farag, Erminia Kamel, and Abdel Moneim Kamel, respectively. Supervisor and assistant were: Safwat Mohamed and Mahmoud Salah El Din, respectively.

Anja Ahcin and Katia Ivanova played the role of Clara; Satsuki Matsumoto, Nadia Lyshchenko, and Reina Okamoto played the role of young Clara; Mamdouh Hassan and Hassan El Tabie interpreted the prince; Hany Hassan and Islam El Desouky interpreted Drosselmeyer; Hossam Mahmoud was Fritz (Clara’s brother); Clara’s father and mother were Safwat Mohamed and Antigoni Tsiouli, respectively; Clara’s grandfather and grandmother were Murodjan Osmanov and Ayat Ahmed, respectively; the clown was interpreted by Ahmed Saeed, Karim Kamal, and Omar Amin; Mohamed Hamed, Saeed Mohsen, and Hassan El Tabie played the role of the Arabian; the mice king was presented by Abdel Rahman Salah, Hussien Olwy, Walid Bidair, and Islam El Desouky; Mariam Karapetyan, Valentina Djurasin, Shuko Tayama, Urara Matsuzawa, and Rossella Annarumma were the snow.

The Spanish dance “The Chocolate” was performed by Mariam Karapetyan, Valentina Djurasin, and Shuko Tayama. The Eastern Dance “The Coffee” was performed by Sahar Helmy, Kateryna Zaberzhnaya, and Ninette Nazmy. Mohamed Hamed, Ahmed Saeed, and Omar Amin did the Chinese dance “The Tea”. Samir Bassiouni and children did the Russian dance “Matroshka Dolls”.

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