Author: Ajla Omerhodzic

After its first performance in 44 years marked huge success a little over three years ago, famous ballet ‘The Nutcracker’, by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, will be back on the scene of the Sarajevo National Theater on January 30-31.

This two-act ballet, directed by Ukrainian choreographer Konstantin Kostjukov, will premiere on January 30, and the ballet reprise will follow immediately on January 31, both starting at 19:30 hours.

‘The Nutcracker’ was staged on the scene of the Sarajevo National Theater in late 2017, marking major success and enviable appraisal, which was particularly significant as it was its first performance in the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 44 years.

All of the tickets were quickly sold out and the performance brought the glory of the Russian classical ballet in B&H production back on the scene in Sarajevo, thanks to the initiative of the artistic team and management the National Theater. It was concluded that, for more than four decades, generations were growing up without the opportunity to see ‘The Nutcracker’, which is a true gem of the Russian classical ballet and is suitable for all generations.

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The ballet will include the performance of Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra alongside conductor Samra Gulamovic, a years-long associate at the National Theater. Globally, the recognizable sound of ‘The Waltz of the Flowers’ is very popular, but many people do not know that it is originally a part of ‘The Nutcracker’, and this is precisely the sound that the Philharmonic Orchestra is set to recreate, in its unique form.

The precise performance of this ballet will be additionally enriched by the artistic presence of famous ballet dancer Tamara Ljubicic, whom the ballet critics often praise for her gracious and technically superior performance. She will play the lead female role, Clara. 

The story is based on the motives of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s fantasy story ‘The Nutcracker and the Mouse King’ and the adaptation by Alexandre Dumas. The storyline follows a girl named Clara who befriends a nutcracker that comes to life on Christmas Eve and wages a battle against the evil Mouse King. Together, Clara and the Nutcracker experience thrilling moments in a fantasy world.

However, the story is just loosely based on Hoffmann’s fantasy story, given that - due to depicting the humanity’s dark-sided nature - his literary work is darker and more troubling than the version that reached the stage, and was thus not adequate to be performed in front of children as the younger, more sensitive audience. The adaptation of the story, written by Dumas, is a light adaptation and perfectly fits the ballet’s dreamy, fairytale ambience. 

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What ballet chroniclers nowadays assess as often neglected basics of music elements is undeniably seen in all of the Tchaikovsky’s works, and those are the melody as the core of the music and the harmony as its backbone. The Russian composer is known for his simplicity and sensibility with more of a European orientation that made him stand outside the mainstream of Russian musical expression.

Generally, ‘The Nutcracker’ has become the most frequently performed of all ballets and has served as an introduction to classical music for many young people. Given that the first act is set at a Christmas party, the ballet is often presented during holiday season, at wintertime.

While ‘The Nutcracker’ is one of this Russian composer’s most famous ballets, ‘Swan Lake’ is by far the most performed ballet classic in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Tchaikovsky remains a significant figure in the field of ballet music, although he personally was not so fond of composing this type of music as he considered it to be not as lasting as the opera music. In fact, ballet chroniclers recorded that the composer did not believe ‘The Nutcracker’ was all that good and he preferred the music that accompanied the ballet of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ that he had previously composed. Ironically, ‘The Nutcracker’ turned out to be one of the best known and admired pieces he wrote in his lifetime.

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Tickets to the ballet performances of ‘The Nutcracker’ can be booked online on the official website of the Sarajevo National Theater, on theater’s official Facebook page, or simply by calling the box office of the theater directly using the phone number +387 33 22 16 82.

Tickets for the premiere cost BAM 10 and BAM 15, depending on the seats, while the prices of tickets to the ballet reprise amount to BAM 8, BAM 10, and BAM 15.

The booked tickets should be picked up at the theater’s box office no later than 24 hours before the show. Reservations can be made no later than 48 hours before the performance.

The box office works Monday through Friday, from 09:00 to 11:30 hrs, as well as from 15:30 to 19:30 hrs.