Tag Archives: Employs

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


Much Ado About Bubbie: Bubbie’s Mad About Hamm

This is an idea I had a while back for a comedic blog about my Bubbie and her antics. If you all enjoy this, perhaps I’ll write a few more, such as how Bubbie voted entirely Democratic except for Mitt Romney because she thinks he’s handsome or how Bubbie now has a crush on Jake Gyllenhaal because he’s a “nice Jewish boy.”

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Much Ado About Bubbie

Bubbie (noun): A term of endearment for a Jewish Grandmother.

Example: My Bubbie doesn’t keep kosher outside of the house.

My sister Sydney, Bubbie, and me.

Bubbie’s Mad About Hamm

My Bubbie Isabelle has a crush on Jon Hamm.

Just like the rest of the family, Bubbie tunes into Mad Men every Sunday night to watch the admen of 1960s Madison Avenue drink, smoke, whore, and gossip – not to mention dish out sexist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, and anti-Semitic dialogue by the second, all of which (with the exception of the anti-Semitic variety) go unprotested by my Bubbie, a true product of the time.

To me, the series is a literary masterpiece on film regardless of how small the screen. To Bubbie, it’s just another one of her “weekly stories,” on par with General Hospital and The Young and the Restless.

Jon Hamm plays the brooding protagonist slash advertising genius, Donald Draper, on the show. Ever since reading in The Kansas City Star that the handsome actor is a St. Louis native, Bubbie – who’s lived in Missouri for over seventy years – has harbored a vicarious pride for Mr. Hamm. Much to my family’s embarrassment, this is not Bubbie’s first crush on a man that is at least a decade younger than my dad.

One time on vacation, while my family was checking into the Waldorf Astoria for a night, Bubbie was mesmerized by the dazzling charm and good looks of an Israeli desk clerk.

What a five-foot tall, eighty-something-year-old – complete with her teased-and-set helmet hair, her rhinestoned schoolteacher sweaters, and her constrictive girdle that makes her waddle – would want with a thirty-something-year-old desk clerk was not exactly a welcomed thought in my thirteen-year-old brain.

…a thought that was only exacerbated by the phrase Bubbie used to convey her attraction to the young man:

“He can put his shoes under my bed any day!”

Bubbie employs the same phrase in regards to Jon Hamm.

Whenever I phone Bubbie, my curiosity always gets the better of me. I can’t help but ask her what she thought of the most recent episode of Mad Men. And just like that, she goes off on her classic rant.

Firstly, Bubbie is angry at the show for not portraying the 60s how she remembers it, what with the show’s excessive drinking, smoking, and sex in the office. “When I worked in an office, they didn’t do that kind of stuff!”

Furthermore, Bubbie not only treats Jon Hamm as if he truly exists during the 1960s, but as if Jon Hamm is accountable for his character Don Draper’s actions. Whenever Don Draper does something that Bubbie doesn’t approve of (for instance, whenever Don has sex with a woman he’s not married to – an incident that occurs almost every episode and with what seems like a different woman every time), Bubbie is not only upset with but in disbelief that Jon Hamm would do such a thing, as if she’s oblivious to the profession of acting.

That’s when Bubbie whips out yet another one of her famous phrases, this time to express her disappointment with Jon Hamm’s behavior:

“Why, it’s disgusting!”

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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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