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The Nutcracker Ballet @ The Opera House

The festive season is upon us and no performance embodies the holiday spirit more than “The Nutcracker.” The Ho Chi Minh City Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera (HBSO) will perform the iconic ballet for three consecutive nights - December 8, 9, 10 - at the Saigon Opera House.

Set in a child’s imagination on Christmas Eve, the two-part classical ballet premiered in Russia in 1892. Composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov adopted “The Nutckracker” from E. T. A. Hoffmann's 1816 short story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The popularity of the ballet and its music have led several of its songs, such as the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" and "Waltz of the Flowers," to be forever associated with the winter holidays around the world.

While audiences will undoubtedly recognize the music, the plot is equally enchanting. On the night before Christmas, young Clara receives a magical Nutcracker doll from her godfather. Incredibly, the nutcracker comes to life and leads her through a fantastical world of dancing snowflakes, dreamy sweets, and the fearsome Mouse King.

The original staging in Russia at the end of the 19th Century received mixed reviews, but subsequent performances made changes including transitioning from children to adult performers. It was staged outside Russia in the 1930s and became particularly popular in America and England where many major theatres continue to stage annual productions that are amongst their most popular shows each year. Experts claim the iconic music and the narrative’s ability to showcase dancers’ technical skills are reasons for its enduring appeal. Meanwhile, the story’s magical elements and fantastical, holiday world make it an ideal performance for adults and children.
The impact of “The Nutcracker” on global holiday culture cannot be exaggerated. From commercials to films to radio, the soundtrack is unavoidable as December 25 approaches. And it is considered one of Tchaikovsky’s most beloved works, placed amongst his other masterpieces such as “Swan Lake” and “Sleeping Beauty.”

The three-night performance at the Saigon Opera House will maintain the traditional feel and festive elegance of the classic ballet with the help of some of the most impressive local talent. Đỗ Hoàng Khang Ninh will play the lead of Clara and the Sugarplum Fairy. While not from a family of dancers or musicians, her talent was recognized at a young age and a scholarship to study with The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet helped her to refine her talents to the point where she has won numerous awards in Vietnam and participated in cultural exchanges to Korea.

Meanwhile, Hạ Long-native Hồ Phi Điệp does come from a family of artists and embarked on an award-winning career that has included performances in Singapore, Taiwan, France, Japan, Korea, and elsewhere. He will take on the titular role for the HBSO’s “The Nutcracker,” while Meritorious Artist Đàm Đức Nhuận will be Mr. Drosselmeyer.

Johanne Jakhelln Constant, a Norwegian teacher and artist has choreographed the special showcase of the ballet at the Sagion Opera House. After receiving a Master's Degree in Dance Performance from America’s famed University of Iowa, she served as Artistic Director of the Ballet Quad Cities (USA). She then returned to her native Norway where she is the Artistic Director and Choreographer for Moving Art and teaches classical ballet and dance history at the Bodø High School. The evening will be directed by Lê Ha My. The renowned maestro led orchestras around the world, most notably in Russia, before returning to Vietnam where he regularly works with Vietnam’s National Symphony Orchestra, National Opera and Ballet Orchestra, HBSO, and several television programs.

8 & 9 & 10 December 2023


The Opera House | 07 Lam Son Square, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City