Tag Archives: Season

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


A Bit More About Me

I thought that perhaps readers might want to learn a bit more about me. So I took the time to write this!

P.S. I took these questions from an internet meme… I’m not sure where they originate from, but I give full credit to whoever created them (although I edited them a little bit). Thanks!

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If you could build a second house anywhere, where would it be?

I really wouldn’t want to own or build a second house — one house is more than enough for me. But, if I could, I would love to live for a period somewhere Scandinavian. Copenhagen? Stockholm? Or maybe even in Belgium, like Antwerp. I also really need to visit England to do some William Blake research for my graphic novel The Poet and the Flea. I’ve already lived in Manhattan and Tokyo, and I hope I can return there in the future. Also, I really must visit Barcelona to see my beloved friend Elena!!

What are your favorite articles of clothing?

Umm, this is a tough question. I admire fashion as an art form, but I have a hard time finding clothes for myself. I guess a more-or-less constant staple of my wardrobe are Vans shoes. Usually quirky ones with multi-colored checkers. Right now, I have a pair with cherries, another silvery pair, and another with blue and pink hearts from St. Valentine’s Day. Also, I’ve been wearing my Vivienne Westwood orb locket for about five years now.

The Last CDs You Bought?

“The Black Belles” by The Black Belles and all of Heavenstamp‘s EPs.

What is your favorite kitchen appliance?

I practically lived off toast my final semester of college. And I’m loving all the sourdough bread in San Francisco. So I’m going to go with “toaster.”

If you could play an instrument, what would it be?

I actually used to play cello — started when I was four years old and stopped after about twelve years. I never really enjoyed playing, but the experience definitely taught me to appreciate music of all kinds. Playing the whimsical Bohemian pieces of David Popper always brought me the most joy. If I had the patience for another instrument, I might learn the piano just so that I could play Igor Stravinsky and Franz Liszt. Or, if I had been born a man, I’d like to be a bass opera singer like Samuel Ramey.

Favorite color?

Since childhood, I’ve always favored blue. But nowadays everyone would accuse me of being passionate about the color black.

Which vehicle do you prefer, sports car, motorcycle, or SUV?

Vespa. Absolutely.

Do you believe in the afterlife?

You do realize you’re asking a Jewish Atheist?

Favorite children’s book?

Not exactly children’s books per se, but I always read the works of Edward Gorey as a child. I remember being upset when he died back in 2000 (I must have been about 11 years old). Once The Poet and the Flea is up online, anyone familiar with Gorey’s work will probably be able to tell how much he has influenced my own style.

What is your favorite season?

Fall, especially October. My birthday is October 19. And there are lot’s of other awesome birthdays (Oct. 1st, Laurence Harvey’s; Oct 2nd, my mom’s; Oct 3rd, Tetsuya’s [L'Arc~en~ciel]; Oct. 4th, Jeremy Blake’s, etcetera.). Plus, I’ve always enjoyed Halloween. The only downside is what follows: winter. I love the cold, but I can’t stand the holiday season. As Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey in The Manchurian Candidate, 1962) says: “Twelve days of Christmas? One day of Christmas is loathsome enough!”

If you have a tattoo, what is it?

Not only would I be disowned if I got a tattoo, but more significantly I am 100% certain I would be allergic to not only the ink but also the needle used in tattooing (I have extremely sensitive skin and a serious metal allergy… not long ago, I tried on a metal bracelet and felt it immediately burning my skin!). But I have a lot of interest and respect for tattoos in various cultures (Maori, etc.). I mean, Eastern Promises (2007) is up there on my favorite movie list!

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

To learn every nuance of every language, and keep them all in my head.

Can you juggle?

I used to have one of those Klutz juggling books… but no.

What is under your bed?

Currently, a gigantic blue portfolio box full of valuable fine art collected by my Opah (grandfather) when he was alive. I’m talking about Reginald Marsh, Philippe Halsman, and the likes.

Which do you prefer, sushi or hamburger?

You do realize you’re asking someone who lived in Tokyo for a year? Sushi, clearly. Especially the kaiten (conveyor belt) variety.

What is your dream job?

From a very young age, my dream has always been to become a comic book artist. For the past few years, I’ve dreamed of becoming a screenwriter. Now, I’m trying to make both come true.

What age do you plan to retire?

Never.

Something you would like to do that you have never done before?

Attend a film festival… especially one screening a film I wrote. I think this will happen sooner than I expect.

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Desert Island Movies (à la Stage32.com)

“What if you could only watch the same 10 films… forever?”

  1. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
  2. In Bruges (2008)
  3. Gemini/Souseiji (1999)
  4. The Constant Gardener (2005)
  5. The Brothers Bloom (2008)
  6. The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
  7. Mystery Men (1999)
  8. The Fall (2006)
  9. Adam’s Apples/Adams æbler (2005)
  10. Topsy-Turvey (1999)

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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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