Great Performances - "San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker"
DANCE IN AMERICA PREMIERES SAN FRANCISCO BALLET'S NUTCRACKER ON GREAT
PERFORMANCES ON PBS
Kristi Yamaguchi Hosts Lavish Holiday Treat
San Francisco Ballet makes the beloved Nutcracker its own, resetting it
during the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exhibition and introducing
Dance in America viewers to the dazzling Maria Kochetkova and Davit
Karapetyan. Recorded last December by KQED Public Television to help
commemorate the company's 75th anniversary, the work is choreographed by
Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson and features sets and costumes by,
respectively, Michael Yeargan and Martin Pakledinaz, both repeat Tony
Award-winning designers. "Striking, elegant and beautiful," assessed The New
Introduced by Olympic champion figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, a native of
the Bay Area and winner of this year's Dancing with the Stars, the
production premieres in high definition and 5.1 surround sound Wednesday,
December 17 at 8 p.m. (ET) on GREAT PERFORMANCES on PBS (check local
listings). San Francisco Ballet Music Director and Principal Conductor
Martin West conducts Tchaikovsky's sprightly score.
"I have grown up with this wonderful company," says Yamaguchi. "It was with
them that my mom, Carole, took me to my first Nutcracker. Pretty impressive
for a little girl, with all that magic and sparkle, thrilling music and
those costumes! I think that's when I fell in love with performing. Next
year, I'll be taking my little girls, 5 and 3, to their first production."
In addition to the Russian-trained Kochetkova, a recent recruit from English
National Ballet, as the adult Clara and the athletic yet lyrical
Armenian-born Karapetyan as her cavalier prince, the large cast includes
Damian Smith as Uncle Drosselmeyer and Pierre-François Vilanoba and Yuan
Yuan Tan as the Snow King and Snow Queen. Vanessa Zahorian is the Sugar Plum
Fairy. Dance in America viewers will remember Yuan Yuan Tan for her stunning
portrayal of Desdemona in Lar Lubovitch's Othello from San Francisco Ballet
The ballet, which was first performed in Russia in 1892, holds a special
significance for San Francisco Ballet, America's oldest professional ballet
company. It had its U.S. premiere there in 1944.
Tchaikovsky's beguiling score is one of the most popular pieces of music
ever written. Think "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" and "Waltz of the
Snowflakes." Inspired by E.T.A. Hoffman's 1816 story, The Nutcracker and The
Mouse King, it was first proposed to Tchaikovsky by legendary choreographer
Marius Petipa as a follow-up to Tchaikovsky's other successful ballets at
Russia's famed Mariinsky Theatre: Swan Lake (1877) and The Sleeping Beauty
(1890). The composer began work on it in 1891.
The work premiered at the Mariinsky in December of the following year, with
choreography by Lev Ivanov, taking over for an indisposed Petipa. The ballet
completed a double bill, appearing with Tchaikovsky's opera Iolanta. Reviews
were disappointing for both. While Tchaikovsky thought much of Iolanta, he
felt the ballet score was not among his best work. Some 115 years, countless
performances, and myriad LPs and CDs later, many would disagree.
San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker was recorded on stage in performance at
the War Memorial Opera House December 19 and 21, 2007. It is a co-production
of San Francisco Ballet and KQED Public Television San Francisco, in
association with Thirteen/WNET New York. Past co-productions of the triad
include San Francisco Ballet's The Tempest, A Song for Dead Warriors,
Cinderella, and Lar Lubovitch's Othello.
Matthew Diamond (Dance in America's Emmy Award-winning Swan Lake with
American Ballet Theatre; GREAT PERFORMANCES' Crazy for You) directs; Judy
Flannery (GREAT PERFORMANCES' Emmy Award-winning A Streetcar Named Desire
>From the San Francisco Opera) produced. Michael Isip is Executive Producer
An expanded version of San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker, featuring
additional behind-the-scenes interviews with the production's creators and a
background piece on the 1915 World's Fair, is available on DVD from Opus
Arte/Naxos of America.
GREAT PERFORMANCES is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the National
Endowment for the Arts, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, the
Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers, and PBS.
Major corporate funding for this telecast was provided by First Republic
Bank, a division of Merrill Lynch Bank & Trust, Co., FSB. Special funding
for the telecast was provided by Jim and Cecilia Herbert & Family.
Additional support was provided by The Flora Family Foundation and members
of the San Francisco Ballet's 75th Anniversary Sponsors Council: major
sponsors include the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, The Hellman Family, and
Yurie and Carl Pascarella; with additional sponsors including Stuart Francis
and Diana Stark; Stephen and Margaret Gill Family Foundation; Cecilia and
Jim Herbert; George Frederick Jewett Foundation, Lucille Jewett, Trustee;
Barbara Ravizza and John Osterweis; Kathleen Scutchfield; The Smelick
Family; The Swanson Foundation; Ms. Susan A. Van Wagner; E.L. Wiegand
Foundation; Diane B. Wilsey; and Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang.
Visit GREAT PERFORMANCES Online at pbs.org/gperf for additional information
on this and other GREAT PERFORMANCES programs. The Web companion contains a
wide variety of images, in-depth information about the programs and
activities for teachers, including lesson plans, tips and resources.
Bill O'Donnell is Series Producer for GREAT PERFORMANCES; David Horn is