top of page


I’ve seen Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Nutcracker and the Mouse King’ at least a dozen times. Usually around December, as it’s a very Xmassy affair. This year I managed to tick this box twice, in Dubai and a few days ago in Warsaw.

The Grand Theatre / National Opera in Warsaw is the very first opera house I ever visited, so it holds a special place in my heart. I don’t remember what I went to see and when exactly it was, but my classical music upbringing is strongly rooted in Warsaw, its music schools and theatres.

It’s one of the largest theatres in Europe, with a seating capacity of over 2000 (my dad appreciates such numbers as an engineer, so I should also count the fire exit doors next time). The theatre was opened back in 1833. Like most of the capital city, it was bombarded heavily in World War II and later on rebuilt and reopened in the 1960s. During the Warsaw Uprising in 1944 the Germans shot civilians in the burnt-out ruins, so its walls are not only witness to the best of art, but sadly, also the darkest moments in Poland’s history.

The Nutcracker gets some bad press among my family and friends. On this occasion, my mum got her shoes and suede bag stuck to a chewing gum which was kindly left under the seat. As you can imagine, she wasn’t a happy bunny. And when she retold the story to her friends they said their car got stolen during a Nutcracker performance a few years ago. So guys, do it at your own risk.

That aside, it remains one of my favourite ballets of all time. Magical, dreamy, romantic, just want the doctor ordered before you get into a family Christmas argument about politics. This year was equally impressive: lavish sets, top quality dancing and choreography. Meanwhile, looking at the fit ballerinas and their flawless moves on stage, I was left pondering that this year went by far too quickly to lose those extra kgs. But also a good time to meditate about challenges for 2020.

Story in a sentence: a sweet little girl, Clara, gets a Nutcracker as a toy present for Christmas and while she’s asleep at night, he comes to life and whisks her away on a beautiful adventure filled with dolls, mice and exotic travels. Ah! Of course there’s a handsome prince charming involved. I should one day do some statistics on how many ballets involve a drop-dead gorgeous prince. Probably 99%. The total opposite of Tinder.

Practicalities: it’s a fairly short ballet (around two hours with one break) so enjoyable for kids & men who are not overly keen on this kind of art. For me, a chance to pull off a fantastic outfit: this time a long black number mixed with a pink-bauble hairstyle. Leopard print ‘All Stars’ for the extra edge. Tickets were £25 each in the back of the amphitheatre. The bonus sticky, old chewing gum comes for free.

The place was packed, as it’s a very popular performance during winter festivities in Poland, with whole families flocking in to see this toy shop of magical exploits. Every time I do The Nutcracker in December, it makes me smile that people still want to celebrate this special moment of the year in such a soulful way.

I nearly forgot: Ferrero Rocher (those hazelnut choc pralines) were served in copious amounts during the break. Just like the chewing gum, free of charge. So really, what more do you want? Happy Christmas to all my readers!


Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page