The West Coast premiere of American Ballet Theatre’s new production of “The Nutcracker” (running at Costa Mesa’s Segerstrom Center for the Arts through Dec. 20) is highly appropriate for SCFTA’s 30th season—after all, ABT inaugurated the center’s dance offerings with the beloved holiday show. So it’s a pleasure to report the latest version, created by ABT Artist in Residence Alexei Ratmansky, is a visually spectacular evening suffused with wit and warmth.
If Richard Hudson’s sets are impressive, his costumes can only be described as eye-popping, especially with regard to the likes of Columbine and Harlequin, and the Russian Dancers. The nuances rarely seen in smaller, more intimate productions extend to the performances. The adults find humor and whimsy in their roles; the kids play like real kids, not actors. Claudia Schuman, who portrayed young Clara opening night, gives delicate emotional shadings to the part that would put some adult actors to shame. Performing Tchaikovsky’s famed score, the Pacific Symphony sounds like a toy orchestra at times.
The Philharmonic Society of Orange County is bringing the Los Angeles Philharmonic to OC for its annual visit on Dec. 13, along with a special holiday treat—namely three-time Grammy-winning violinist Hilary Hahn. Wielding the baton will be Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla; the young Lithuanian conductor, who is herself turning heads in the classical world, is being promoted to Associate Conductor of the L.A. Phil next summer.
What’s on Hahn’s agenda, for the concert slated at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall? Suite No. 4 from Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s “The Golden Key,” Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 and Henri Vieuxtemps’ Violin Concerto No. 4. The symphony may be as popular as the concerto is obscure, but the Vieuxtemps been part of Hahn’s repertoire since she was a child. “This concerto is operatically lyrical and demands flexibility, panache, focus, a flair for drama, and chamber-music-style unity even in its most symphonic dimensions,” said the violin virtuosa. Hahn and Gražinyte-Tyla will also offer the program Dec. 12 at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Those who step to a different beat can rock ‘round the clock with the new 2-disc Rock ‘n’ Rhythm Collector’s Set (available on DVD from Film Chest Media Group). The set pairs two historic variety show revues, recorded live at Harlem’s Apollo Theater in 1955; “Rock ‘n’ Roll Revue” and “Rhythm & Blues Revue” showcase a bounty of music legends from the era. The 1956 film “Rock, Rock, Rock!,” featuring Alan Freed and Chuck Berry, is included as a bonus.
Stocking stuffers: “Mona Lisa Is Missing” (available on DVD and VOD from Virgil Films) is an award-winning documentary feature film about the greatest art theft of all time: the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre… “The Story of Women and Art” (available on DVD from Athena) is a three-part documentary that takes us on a tour through four centuries of Western art highlighting women’s achievements, hosted by Professor Amanda Vickery.