Marigny Opera Ballet, the resident dance company of the Marigny Opera House, will open its eighth season after an 18-month hiatus with the world premiere of “The New Orleans Jazz Nutcracker” on Friday. December 3rd. Set in Jackson Square on Christmas Eve, the full-length ballet features a commissioned score by legendary jazz artist Larry Sieberth and live accompaniment by his 10-piece jazz ensemble. Ballet Master Jarina Carvalho is choreographer.
In development for two years, “The New Orleans Jazz Nutcracker” confronts space and budget limitations inherent in the ballet company’s reconfigured church stage setting. “This is not your traditional Nutcracker,” admits Executive Director and librettist Dave Hurlbert, himself a veteran of countless performances of the Nutcracker at San Francisco Ballet. “Traditional productions are essentially the same. An upper-class Victorian girl goes to a party where she’s given a mysterious gift – the Nutcracker – and then goes on to battle mice and journey to the Candy Kingdom.” Hurlbert doesn’t disparage traditional Nutcrackers and highly recommends them to audiences. With Sieberth and Carvalho, he has sprinkled echoes of the beloved Tchaikovsky score throughout the new production.
In building the scenario for “The Jazz Nutcracker,” Hurlbert went to the core of the original and found much that resonates with present day New Orleans. “The central theme of Nutcracker is life itself -- the coming together of strange and eccentric people to celebrate the holidays. It’s about love – Clara and her Prince and the kindness of the personages and creatures she encounters on her journey.”
For internationally recognized composer Lawrence Sieberth, “The Jazz Nutcracker” marks a third collaboration with Marigny Opera Ballet. His strength, says Hurlbert, is a musical vision not limited by genre barriers. At home in just about any musical setting, Sieberth has performed at clubs and venues throughout the U.S. and abroad. He has been a featured artist and musical director for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for more than 30 years.
To choreograph the new Nutcracker, Hurlbert looked for stylistic fluidity, someone who could meld classical ballet, contemporary, jazz and South American-inspired dance. More than technical excellence, the choreography has to take full advantage of Sieberth’s glorious jazz score, coming across as both humorous and touching while filling audiences with goodwill, affection and joy. Ballet Master Carvalho checked all the boxes. She completed classical ballet training at the School of American Ballet in New York City and danced with the Dance Theatre of Harlem.
Costumers Laura Sirkin Brown and Brooke Sauvage are back for season eight, with British mask designer Rosemary Elliott creating bespoke dance masks for the production. New to the team is Technical Director/Lighting Designer Wesley Strain.
Members of the company include Lauren Guynes, Joshua Bell, Sara Radka, Jefther Osorio, Donovan Davis, Arden McKee, Calvin Rowe, Lauren Ashlee Messina. Elle C. Jones, Donovan Davis and Le’Tiger Walker, along with student apprentices of the Ballet.
Single tickets ($50/$35) are now on sale for “The New Orleans Jazz Nutcracker,” December 3-5, 10-12 at 7 p.m. at Marigny Opera House, 725 St. Ferdinand Street, New Orleans, LA 70117.
Marigny Opera Ballet's Jazz Nutcracker Tickets, Fri, Dec 3, 2021 at 7:00 PM | Eventbrite Additional information: https://www.