Season’s favorites return for ChristmasThe holiday season this year is once again filled with Christmas performances, so mark your calendar and book soon, before tickets sell out.
It’s a tradition in Seoul every winter holiday season for the Universal Ballet and Korean National Ballet to separately stage “The Nutcracker.” They are two of Korea’s leading ballet companies, and performances do sell out.
Alexander Dumas, the French author, revised a tale inspired by E.T.A. Hoffman’s fairy tale, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.”
Marius Petipa drew upon that story to produce a ballet in St. Petersburg that has become a classic around the world, with different variations. He asked Tchaikovsky to compose a score for the piece.
In the ballet, during a Christmas party a young girl receives a nutcracker doll from her godfather. Her brother is jealous and breaks the doll, but the godfather fixes it, and the party continues. Later that night, the girl goes to check on the doll, and falls asleep holding it. She dreams of a nutcracker prince, dancing snowflakes, the sugar plum fairy, and a battle against the Mouse King.
Universal Ballet bases its performance on the Kirov Ballet staging. The company began its Nutcracker tour of Korea on Dec. 3 and will have a finale in Seoul with performances at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts from Dec. 21 to 26, with shows daily at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are 20,000 won ($19) to 70,000 won. For more information, visit the Web site www.universalballet.com.
The Korean National Ballet first introduced “The Nutcracker” to Korea in 1977. For this production, they have matched eight dancers in the lead roles of Clara and the Nutcracker Prince.
Kim Ju-yeon will be performing with Lee Won-cheol, Youn Hae-jin with Kim Hyun-ung, Gang Hwa-hae, a Korean-Japanese prima ballerina, with Jang Un-gyu, whose performance will be his first after recovering from injury, and Hong Jeong-min with Shin Mu-seob.
The performance will be at the Seoul Arts Center from Dec. 21 to 28. It is based on choreography by Yuri Grigorovich with set design by Krasnodar Premiera. Admission is 20,000 won to 50,000 won.
A Christmas Carol
“A Christmas Carol” is another holiday favorite around the world that is being restaged as a musical in Korea by popular demand. Based on the novel by Charles Dickens, this musical brings to life the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, who gets a shot at redemption. The first showing last year received rave reviews.
The 2004 staging is at Seoul Arts Center’s Towol Theater from Dec. 23 to 26 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 28 to 30 at 7:30 p.m. While the performances are in Korean, there will be English subtitles, since “Seoul Arts Center is a popular arts venue among the expatriate community,” explains one organizer.
Admission is 20,000 to 70,000 won. For more information, visit the Web site at www.sac.or.kr.
Danny Jung’s Jazz Christmas
Danny Jung has been making a name for himself as a young, talented saxophonist. On his debut album, “Make a Wish,” he was backed by such heavy hitters as Nathan East, Greg Phillinganes, Paul Jackson Jr., Luis Conte and Don Grusin. His concert in Korea is slated for Christmas Eve at 8:30 p.m., at the Seoul Arts Center’s Concert Hall. Billy Steinway and Lee Hyo-seok will be playing keyboards, with Anthony Fitzgerald Moore on drums, Melvin Lee Davis on bass and Hung Jun-ho on guitar.
Organizers are dubbing this a romantic evening, and have created a romantic package for couples that includes two VIP seats, a bottle of wine and a set of wine glasses. The program includes songs like “Dreams of Heaven” and “For Your Love,” from Jung’s album, and Christmas classics like “Winter Wonderland” and “White Christmas.”
Tickets are 20,000 won to 70,000 won. For more information, visit the Web site www.pmgkorea.com.
Ronn Branton’s Classic Jazz Christmas
For an intimate night of jazz, try the Ronn Branton Christmas concert. This year, the pianist has booked Seoul Arts Center’s Recital Hall for performances on Christmas Eve at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. with saxophonist Klae, Choi Chi-woo on drums and Choi Chang-u on bass.
They will cover such classics as “Jingle Bells” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” and songs from “Charlie Brown’s Christmas.” Admission is 20,000 to 40,000 won. For more information call (02) 888-2698 or visit www.sac.or.kr.
by Joe Yonghee