Tag Archives: Compliment

Note on “The Nutcracker”

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the following images or video!!

One of my favorite operas is Jacques Offenbach‘s The Tales of Hoffmann (Les contes d’Hoffmann). This opera is a fantastical retelling of the life of the German Romantic author E. T. A. Hoffmann,  casting Hoffmann as the protagonist of his own stories.

Placido Domingo performing the “Chanson de Kleinzach” aria.

Désirée Rancatore performing “Les oiseaux dans la charmille.”

Through The Tales of Hoffmann, I developed an interest in Hoffmann and his stories, quickly leading me to Sigmund Freud’s The Uncanny. In Freud’s essay, he uses many of the same Hoffmann stories as Offenbach, but in this case to prove a psychological point (not that Offenbach’s opera isn’t deeply psychological). If I remember correctly, Freud even mentions Offenbach’s opera.

Portrait of E. T. A. Hoffmann

I’m sure you are all wondering, “What does all this have to do with The Nutcracker?” Well, little do most people know, E. T. A. Hoffmann wrote in 1816 one of the earliest versions of The Nutcracker story, entitled The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Nussknacker und Mausekönig).

Alexandre Dumas was also a fan of Hoffmann, employing allusions to Hoffmann’s stories in The Count of Monte Cristo. Dumas even went as far as creating a revision to Hoffmann’s Nutcracker in 1844 called History of The Nutcracker (Histoire d’un casse-noisette), or The Tale of the Nutcracker.

9780143104834

Towards the end of the 19th Century, Hoffmann’s Nutcracker was adapted to ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, perhaps the most famous incarnation of the tale. I write this post because my dad purchased tickets to the San Francisco Ballet to see The Nutcracker at the end of the month. Perhaps later I’ll add my thoughts on the production to this post.

Tchaikovsky’s music is always wonderful, if not a little too overplayed for the holidays. A lot of people tend to associate The March from The Nutcracker or The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy not with Tchaikovsky, but with the thousands of Christmas commercials that use these pieces. This also happens with The Chinese Tea Dance from The Nutcracker with Disney’s Fantasia and The Sleeping Beauty Waltz with Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.

I believe the most creative and exciting production of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker is Mark Morris’s The Hard Nut. The Hard Nut is set in 1950s America with a very retro feel inspired by the comic artist Charles Burns — a strange but brilliant compliment to the classical music. I hope to one day be able to attend a live performance.

Advertisement for The Hard Nut.

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Copyright 2012 by G. E. Gallas


Zines and Me!

Rough sketch for zine idea.

As I mentioned before (here), I’ve only recently become interested in the world of zines. Not only do zines appear to be an incredibly flexible channel for creativity, but I think that this medium would be a great compliment to my graphic novels and children’s books. I like the idea of the zine being very hands on — a real artist book, the artist not only illustrating, but also cutting and pasting the finished pamphlet together. This process reminds me greatly of Andy Warhol, his factory, and 25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy.

Before I begin any zines of my own, I’ve been trying to get a better sense of their mercurial world. At APE (Alternative Press Expo) 2012, I talked with Tugboat Press, who produce annual free comics and an anthology called Papercutter. Tugboat led me to Parcell Press, who seems to carry a vast array of zines, comics, etc. I also found “How to Make a Zine” on Rookie. I guess the one true rule of creating zines is that there are no rules!

As I ponder the pre-existing zine world, my own ideas for zines just keep pouring out of me. I scribble these ideas down furiously in a Gallatin notebook I received upon graduation and was saving for something important (who knew that important something was zines). Endless ideas — everything from opera parodies to The Death of Chatterton. I’m not sure when I’ll actually have time to realize these zines since I’m already working on so many projects that need to get done (The Poet and the Flea, The First Reich, etcetera, etcetera). I’m hoping to take a stab early next year, June at the latest. We’ll see how that works out…

Some useful zine-related websites I’ve discovered:

Plus, I figure if I make enough zines, then eventually I can release them all in one book.

Any comments, suggestions, or thoughts would be truly appreciated!

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For more updates, don’t forget to follow me on tumblr and/or twitter.

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Copyright 2012 by G. E. Gallas


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