Home Artistic creation Your guide to holiday music and theater

Your guide to holiday music and theater

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The holiday music and theater season is upon us. It means ballet and burlesque, tuba orchestras and klezmer orchestras, Christmas carols and Tchaikovsky in three different ways. Unbox some art with help from our guide to all the best things this season.

“The Nutcracker”, from November 25 to December 31, Boston Opera

What begins in the cozy living room of the Silberhaus family turns into a fever dream of mouse kings, sugar plum fairies and magical moments. An honored holiday tradition suitable for families of all kinds, Boston Ballet’s “Nutcracker” is also high art. Tchaikovsky’s timeless score is a marvel. Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen’s vision of classical ballet is warm, nuanced, dramatic and delightful. Let this be your gateway into the art form (follow with “Don Quixote,” March 16-26). bostonballet.org

“Messiah”, from November 25 to 27, Symphony Hall

Since Handel composed “The Messiah” in 1741, the oratorio has performed for millions of people. Maybe a million in Boston alone. Handel and Haydn Society performed the masterpiece for 168 consecutive years. Participate in issue 169. Handelandhaydn.org

“‘Twas the Night Before”, Nov. 25 – Dec. 11, Wang Theater

Cirque du Soleil’s take on the classic poem follows teenage Isabella through a fantastical journey to reunite with her family. Blasted by the holiday hype, Isabella’s mood turns as she journeys through a wintry wonderland full of Cirque’s signature mix of circus arts and theater – acrobats and reindeer, snowstorms and show. bochcenter.org

Tuba Christmas, November 27, Downtown Crossing

One hundred tuba players gather in the heart of Boston to play holiday favorites for free. A wild and unlikely delight for the ears, the event will also delight the eyes – many horn players adorn their instruments like Christmas trees. downtownboston.org

Ezekiel’s Wheels Klezmer Band, Nov. 30, BackRoom at Boston Synagogue

Klezmer is dance music. And Boston’s Ezekiel’s Wheels make the music with nuance and exuberance, finding intersections between folk, jazz and classical. This dance party is part of the Boston Festival of New Jewish Music, a series of free monthly concerts. ewklezmer.com

“A Christmas Carol,” Dec. 1-23, North Shore Music Theatre, Beverly

Since its debut in 1989, over a million people have seen this NSMT staple. Why? To hear songs like “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” experience special effects that rival a Hollywood blockbuster, and marvel at the magic of David Coffee – who returns as Scrooge for his 28th holiday season. Nsmt.org

The Holiday Pops, Dec. 1-24, various locations

The Pops play numerous dates at Symphony Hall in December, but fans across New England can catch bandleader Keith Lockhart and friends as they travel state to state. Performances will feature carols, seasonal favorites and new treats such as “Noche de Posadas (The Night of Las Posadas)” with text and projected images from Tomie dePaola’s classic children’s book. bso.org/pops/

“Black Nativity,” Dec. 2-18, Emerson Paramount Mainstage

The words of legendary poet Langston Hughes combine with dancers, singers and musicians to tell the Gospel of Saint Luke. “Black Nativity” is a work with a long local heritage and a vibrant cast – more than 50 are joining in this 52nd season. Emersontheatres.org

“The Slutcracker”, December 2-31, Somerville Theater

Fly over Tchaikovsky and tell Santa the news: this bawdy John Waters-approved adaptation follows the adventures of a housewife through a bizarre wonderland. Fun, festive, steamy, not for kids. theslutcracker.com

“A Christmas Celtic Sojourn,” Dec. 10–Jan. 2, various locations and online

Brian O’Donovan’s Celtic show is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Drawing inspiration from Celtic, Pagan and Christian traditions to delve into centuries-old December artistic traditions. Expect a warm mix of music, songs and storytelling. Christmasceltic.com

“Hanukkah Through the Senses”, December 11, The Mosesian Center for the Arts, Watertown

Let your five senses experience Hanukkah. Klezmer music for your ears, chocolate jelly on your tongue, dancers for your eyes. All this and more during this stage performance and night of interactive arts and crafts for the whole family. Mosesianarts.org

The Midwinter Revels, December 16-28, Sanders Theatre, Cambridge

The 52nd annual Midwinter Revels production transports audiences to Ellis Island in the 1920s. On Christmas Eve, families from Ireland, Russia and Germany share their traditions with each other and with a group of Mexican-born nurses who deal with new immigrants. Christian and Jewish songs, stories and dances fill a December 24th like no other. Revels.org

“Urban Nutcracker”, from December 17 to 23, Shubert Theater

Anthony Williams’ annual holiday production puts a spin on traditional ballet with Duke Ellington’s reimagining of Tchaikovsky’s score fueling a range of dance forms. “We have Tchaikovsky, we have Duke Ellington, we have classical ballet, hip hop, flamenco, swing dancing, tap dancing,” Williams told the Herald of his creation. bochcenter.org

The Boston Ballet is rehearsing a performance of “The Nutcracker”. (Photo Liza Voll)
Santa Claus chats with Boston Pops bandleader Keith Lockhart.  (Photo by Stu Rosner)
Santa Claus chats with Boston Pops bandleader Keith Lockhart. (Photo by Stu Rosner)