Nutcracker Quiz

December 11, 1997|By Judith Green | Judith Green,Special to the Sun

"The Nutcracker" wasn't always a Christmas tradition. As a matter of history, the premiere, which took place in April 1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia, was created as a treat for the Russian Easter.

But once the New York City Ballet offered "The Nutcracker" as a Christmas ballet, it became a fixture of the American holiday calendar.

To set off our list of local "Nutcracker" productions, and to add to your store of "Nutcracker" lore, here's our very own trivia game.

1. The writer of the story on which "The Nutcracker" is based was:

(a) W.E.B. DuBois.

(b) M.F.K. Fisher.

(c) E.T.A. Hoffmann.

(d) C.D.B. Bryan.

2. Another story by the same writer also was made into a ballet. It was:

(a) "Coppelia."

(b) "Cinderella."

(c) "Swan Lake."

(d) "Sleeping Beauty."

3. Other than the writer, what do the two ballets have in common?

(a) A mechanical toy that comes to life.

(b) A supporting cast of mice.

(c) A well-known waltz.

(d) A clever old craftsman.

4. The story came to Russia in a French translation by:

(a) Victor Hugo ("Les Miserables").

(b) Alexandre Dumas pere ("The Three Musketeers").

(c) Alexandre Dumas fils ("La Dame aux Camellias").

(d) Victorien Sardou ("Tosca").

5. The original title of "The Nutcracker" ballet was:

(a) "Casse-Noisette."

(b) "Le Charcuterie."

(c) "Nussbaum und Mauskonig."

(d) "Sachertorte-Kassel."

6. It was choreographed by:

(a) Vaslav Nijinsky, who also choreographed "The Rite of Spring."

(b) Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, who also choreographed "Swan Lake."

(c) Mikhail Fokine, who also choreographed "The Firebird."

(d) Anna Pavlova, who also choreographed "The Dying Swan."

7. The first American production of "The Nutcracker" -- extra credit if you know the year -- was by:

(a) Ballet of the 20th Century.

(b) New York City Ballet.

(c) Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.

(d) San Francisco Ballet.

8. "The Nutcracker" is part of a great trilogy of ballets by Tchaikovsky. The others are:

(a) "Romeo and Juliet" and "Cinderella."

(b) "Coppelia" and "Giselle."

(c) "Swan Lake" and "Sleeping Beauty."

(d) "Don Quixote" and "Raymonda."

9. "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" features an instrument invented in the 1880s. It is:

(a) The harmonica.

(b) The harmonium.

(c) The arpeggione.

(d) The celesta.

10. This instrument is best described as:

(a) A carillon with a keyboard.

(b) a clarinet mouthpiece attached to a brass horn.

(c) A cello with a fingerboard fretted like a guitar.

(d) A small electric organ that can make special effects.

11. "Dance of the Mirlitons" is a duet for:

(a) A bluebird and a princess.

(b) Dresden shepherdesses.

(c) Chinese dolls.

(d) Two mirlitons.

12. What is a mirliton?

(a) A harp that you can hold on your lap.

(b) A gold trumpet with a mellow tone.

(c) A set of panpipes.

(d) An electronic instrument best known (apart from "Nutcracker") for its use in the score of Hitchcock's "Spellbound."

13. The heroine of "The Nutcracker" is a little girl named Maria. In some productions, she is called:

(a) Aurora.

(b) Swanilda.

(c) Clara.

(d) Pollyanna.

14. Who is Mother Ginger?

L (a) The mother of Maria and her horrid little brother Fritz.

(b) Tchaikovsky's patron, a wealthy noblewoman who preferred to remain anonymous.

(c) The old woman who lived in a shoe.

(d) The mother of the Nutcracker Prince.

15. The grand pas de deux in Act II is traditionally danced by:

(a) Maria and the Nutcracker Prince.

(b) The Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier.

(c) The Mouse King and Queen.

(d) The Snow King and Queen.

16. George Balanchine's "Nutcracker" for New York City Ballet introduced:

(a) Waltzing snowflakes.

(b) A toy cannon.

(c) Dancing cookies.

(d) A Christmas tree that gets taller and taller.

17. In addition to dances of Russia and Spain, Balanchine included dances in the Act II divertissement for:

(a) Caramel and taffy.

(b) Coffee and tea.

(c) Sugar and spice.

(d) Bagels and lox.

18. The first New York City Ballet "Nutcracker" featured two women, one who had been married to Balanchine and one who was later to marry him. Who were they, and what roles did they dance? (Choose two.)

(a) Vera Zorina, the narrator.

(b) Maria Tallchief, Sugar Plum Fairy.

(c) Suzanne Farrell, Clara.

(d) Tanaquil Leclercq, Dewdrop Fairy.

19. Pacific Northwest Ballet's "Nutcracker," which was made into a film in 1986, was designed by a well-known writer-illustrator of children's books. Who is it?

(a) Maurice Sendak ("Where the Wild Things Are").

(b) Garth Williams ("Charlotte's Web").

(c) Sir John Tenniel ("Alice in Wonderland").

(d) Beatrix Potter ("Peter Rabbit").

20. New York City Ballet's "Nutcracker," which was made into a film in 1992, featured a well-known child actor as the narrator. That child actor actually had danced the part of Fritz while a student at the New York City Ballet school, where his parents had enrolled him so he wouldn't be left home alone. Who is it?

(a) Brandon DeWilde.

(b) Macauley Culkin.

(c) Roddy McDowall.

(d) Jonathan Lipnicki.

Answers: 1. (c) 2. (a) 3. All four 4. (c) 5. (a) This is a trick question The original title of the story (not the ballet) was "Nussbaum und Mauskonig." 6. (b) Anna Pavlova danced but did not choreograph "The Dying Swan." 7. (d) 1944. 8. (c) 9. (d) 10. (a) 11. (b) 12. (c) The electronic instrument is the theremin. 13. (c) Tchaikovsky's patron was Madame Nadejda von Meck. 14. (c) 15. (b) 16. (d) 17. (b) 18. (b) and (d) Tallchief was married to him (1946-52) and he divorced her to marry LeClercq (1952-69). The actress Vera Zorina was his first wife (1938-46), but there is no narrator in "The Nutcracker." 19. (a) 20. (b)

Pub Date: 12/11/97

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