The festive musical and theatrical season is approaching. It’s ballet and burlesque, tuba and klezmer orchestras, Christmas carols and Tchaikovsky in three different ways. Expand some of the art with our guide to all the best things this season has to offer.
The Nutcracker, November 25 – December 31, Boston Opera House.
What begins in the cozy living room of the Silberhaus family turns into a feverish dream of Mouse Kings, Drage Fairies and magical moments. The Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker, a revered holiday tradition suitable for families of all types, is also a high art. Tchaikovsky’s timeless score is an absolute marvel. Artistic director Mikko Nissinen’s vision of classical ballet is warm, nuanced, dramatic and delightful. Let this be your entry into art (continue with Don Quixote, March 16-26). Bostonballet.org
“Messiah”, November 25 – 27, Symphony Hall
Since Handel wrote The Messiah in 1741, this oratorio has been played by millions of people. Maybe a million in Boston alone. The Handel and Haydn Society performed this masterpiece for 168 consecutive years. Join No. 169. Handelandhaydn.org
“That Was Last Night,” November 25-December 11, Wang Theatre.
In Cirque du Soleil’s performance of the classic poem, teenage Isabella embarks on a fantasy journey to reunite with her family. Plagued by the holiday hype, Isabella’s mood is transformed as she travels through a winter wonderland full of a signature blend of circus arts and theatre, acrobats and reindeer, snowstorms and spectacle. bochcenter.org
Tuba Christmas, November 27, Downtown Crossing.
Hundreds of tuba players gathered in the heart of Boston to play holiday favorites for free. A wild and unlikely delight to the ears, the event will also please the eyes – many horn players decorate their instruments like Christmas trees. downtown boston.org
Ezekiel’s Wheels Klezmer Band, November 30, BackRoom at Boston Synagogue
Klezmer is dance music. And Boston-based Ezekiel’s Wheels performs music with nuance and exuberance, finding intersections between folk, jazz and classical. This dance party is part of the Boston New Jewish Music Festival, a series of free monthly concerts. ewklezmer.com
A Christmas Carol, December 1-23, North Shore Musical Theatre, Beverly.
Since its debut in 1989, this NSMT staple has been viewed by over a million people. Why? To hear songs like “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”, see special effects that rival Hollywood blockbusters, and immerse yourself in the magic of David Coffey, who returns as Scrooge for his 28th holiday season. nsmt.org
The Holiday Pops, December 1-24, various locations.
The Pops will be playing plenty of shows at the Symphony Hall this December, but fans across New England can catch conductor Keith Lockhart and his friends as they travel from state to state. The performances will feature songs, seasonal favorites, and new treats such as “Noche de Posadas” (“The Night of Las Posadas”) with text and projected images from Tomi de Paola’s classic children’s book. bso.org/pops/
Black Nativity, December 2-18, Emerson Paramount Mainstage.
The words of the legendary poet Langston Hughes are combined with dancers, singers and musicians to tell the Gospel of St. Luke. Black Birth is a work with a long local heritage and a dynamic cast – more than 50 people have joined this 52nd season. emersontheatres.org
“The Slutcracker”, December 2-31, Somerville Theater.
Flip Tchaikovsky and tell Santa the news: John Waters-approved raunchy adaptation follows the adventures of a housewife in a strange wonderland. Fun, festive, obscene, not for children. theslutcracker.com
“Christmas Celtic Stay”, December 10 – January 2, in various locations and online.
Brian O’Donovan’s Celtic is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Drawing on Celtic, Pagan and Christian traditions, you will immerse yourself in the age-old artistic traditions of December. Expect a homely mix of music, song and narration. christmasceltic.com
“Hanukkah through Feelings”, December 11, Moses Center for the Arts, Watertown.
Let all five of your senses experience Hanukkah. Klezmer music for the ears, chocolate jelly on the tongue, dancers for the eyes. All this and more during this family stage performance and interactive arts and crafts evening. Moiseyanarts.org
Midwinter Festival, December 16-28, Sanders Theatre, Cambridge.
The 52nd annual production of Midwinter Revels takes viewers 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 nurses who care for new immigrants. Christian and Jewish songs, stories and dances fill the celebration of December 24th unlike any other event. Revels.org
“City Nutcracker”, December 17 – 23, Schubert Theater
Anthony Williams’ annual celebratory production focuses on traditional ballet, while Duke Ellington reimagines Tchaikovsky’s score using a range of dance forms. “We have Tchaikovsky, we have Duke Ellington, we have classical ballet, hip-hop, flamenco, swing, tap dancing,” Williams told Herald about his creation. bochcenter.org