Nov 10, 2016

Did you know: Mikko Nissinen's The Nutcracker

Written by Boston Ballet Staff

Act II | The Nutcracker Prince's Kingdom

Photo Credit: Rosalie O'Connor

A Reimagined Production

We love when we have the opportunity to bring new life to productions that have transformed audiences for decades.

Act II | Waltz of the Flowers

Photo credit: Rosalie O'Connor

Dew Drop Costume Detail

Photo credit: Boston Ballet Staff

Act II | Waltz of the Flowers

Photo credit: Rosalie O'Connor

Dew Drop Costume Detail

Photo credit: Boston Ballet Staff

From Sketches to the Stage

Beginning in 2011, Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen worked with award-winning designer Robert Perdziola to create 40 full-color sketches of costumes and set designs—and countless smaller sketches in pencil—for a completely new visualization of The Nutcracker that would greatly enhance the audience’s experience. After a year of dedicated hard work by countless craftsmen and women from around the U.S., the reimagined production was brought to life in December 2012. It continues to be enhanced, and last year new lighting was added by renowned Finnish lighting designer Mikki Kunttu. Here are some fun facts about the production that took a dedicated army of artists, designers, dancers, musicians, and staff to create.

Fun Facts
  • 182 costumes appear on stage in a single performance, but approximately 350 were made for multiple casts. 

  • Costumes were designed with lightness in mind to illuminate the dancers’ movements.
  • More than 200,000 jewels are used on all of the costumes. 

  • Sugar Plum and Dew Drop costumes have more than 3,600 jewels on their tutus and bodices. 

  • Set and costume designer Robert Perdziola hand-tipped every Sugar Plum and Snow Queen tutu with metallic paint. 

  • Our Costume Shop imported fabrics from Germany and England, as well as purchased fabric 
from more than 60 other vendors in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Each tutu in the production has more than 250 hand-tied tacks.
  • On several costumes, such as the Nutcracker Prince and the Harlequin, Perdziola hand-inked the patterns to correlate with each dancer’s individual proportions.
  • The Sugar Plum Fairy wears two different looks in one performance. 

  • The Mice costumes have 15,000 yards of tulle trim specifically fabricated for them. 

  • The Big Mice also have gloves and shoes specially made with latex claws and articulated toes. 

  • Perdziola carved to scale miniature mice heads made to showcase his design.
  • The Snow King’s costume incorporates 800 metal studs and more than 250 jewels applied to metallic embroidery.
  • Each Page has an embroidered, painted, and jeweled nutcracker face on their coat front and 
each of their hats have 15 ostrich plumes. 

  • Nine different fabrics were used in the female Chinese dancer‘s costume. 

  • Each shepherdess has 17 handmade ribbon flowers on her apron and 15 handmade silk duponi butterflies on her skirt.
  • The Waltz of the Flowers costumes use approximately 1,000 yards of hand-painted net fabric to create the Flower skirts. Our Costume Shop painted the net fabric before sending it out for two types of pleats; sunburst pleats with a micro pleat trim. 
  • All of the sets were painted by hand and domestically made. 

  • Most scenery was built at Mystic Scenic Studio in Norwood. 

  • Most props were built in Boston Ballet’s 40,000-square-foot warehouse in Newburyport.
  • Additional props were made in New York City, Kansas, and Ontario, Canada.
  • There are additional wings creating a rich optical illusion and a more spacious stage effect.
  • For the new production’s set changes, Nissinen and Perdziola created a series of reveals where scenes appear to iris out of one another.
  • To make three pieces of scenery move at once, the Boston Ballet’s technical staff built rigging and tracking systems on monstrous steel cages (in the show, these systems are manipulated by one stagehand pulling a rope).
  • Hundreds of gallons of paint (all of which were custom mixed to match the colors in the designer’s renderings) were used on the sets.
  • The iconic Christmas tree grows to 42 feet 6 inches tall, with 766 fiber optic points and 600 ornaments. The small tree in the living room is 16 feet 11 inches tall.

Act I | The Battle Scene

Photo Credit: Rosalie O'Connor

More Fun Facts: 

  • The production is set in the Regency period of the early 1800s, also known as the Jane Austen era.
  • Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker is based on the libretto by Alexandre Dumas père titled The Tale of the Nutcracker, which is adapted from E. T. A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.
  • Approximately 150 dancers are involved in each performance, including Boston Ballet, Boston Ballet II, and Boston Ballet School students. 

  • There are more than 240 children involved in The Nutcracker, making up three casts (all are classical ballet students from the Boston, Newton, and North Shore studios). 

  • Some roles performed by Company members have as many as 12 casts. 

  • The beloved Bear and Gingerbread are joined by a brand new character—the Bunny.
  • New lighting design by renowned Finnish lighting designer Mikki Kunttu was added in 2015.
  • This version of The Nutcracker is the biggest production Boston Ballet has built in over a decade.
Can you spot these fun facts on stage?

Join us to experience the magic of this re-imagined holiday tradition.

The Nutcracker

Nov 29–Dec 30, 2018

The illusion we create is intended to deepen your understanding of reality.

Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director