HCMC – Christmas is nothing without The Nutcracker, the celebrated ballet by Tchaikovsky. It will be performed by HBSO in the Saigon Opera House on December 8-10, starting at 8 p.m.
The Nutcracker is a staple here in Saigon, being revived every December. It is an extra special, among other things, because it is a ballet performed with full symphony orchestra. Most other dance productions use recorded music.
All the major roles will be played by some of HBSO’s top dancers. Do Hoang Khang Ninh will dance Clara and the Sugarplum Fairy, Ho Phi Diep will be the Nutcracker and the Cavalier, and Dam Duc Nhuan (a “meritorious artist”) will play Mister Drosselmeyer. The conductor will be Le Ha My.
The story begins with a Christmas party in a rich house. Clara, the daughter of the house, falls asleep under the Christmas tree after the party ends. It is then that the various kitchen implements come alive and dance, including the Nutcracker (a device for tracking hard-shelled nuts).
The Nutcracker then takes Clara on a journey on which she sees a winter wonderland, plus the spirits of coffee, chocolate, oranges and tea and the countries they come from. She returns home to wake up and think it was all a dream.
Le Ha My was born into a famous musical family and went on to train in conducting in Russia, where he was awarded a distinguished student medal.
Do Hoang Khang Ninh is one of the younger of HBSO’s dancing stars and has performed the leading roles in many other ballets in Saigon, including Giselle, Coppelia, and the contemporary dance production Cafe Saigon.
Ho Phi Diep (another “meritorious artist”) has led the cast of many Saigon ballets, including the celebrated success Giselle where he danced the male lead Albert (Albrecht), Cinderella and Coppelia. He is currently deputy head of the HBSO’s ballet department.
This production of The Nutcracker was originally conceived by the renowned Norwegian choreographer Johanne Jakhelin Constant, a theatre artist who has choreographed numerous ballets in the U.S. and elsewhere. Additional work comes from Nguyen Phuc Hung.