For over a decade, The Paine, our town's 1920's mock Tudor mansion turned public art center has been transformed into scenes from Nutcracker Ballet at Christmas time. It usually opens about a week before Thanksgiving and fortunately for us, continues through the first week of January. Thanks to a lack of planning and general inability to do things in a timely manner, His Madness and I usually make it there just prior to (if not on) the closing day.
This year a new tree greeted visitors in the vestibule. Much to our surprise, it sported a rather unique double top, certainly a rarity among artificial trees.
It's only been within the last three years that photography has been allowed and I've covered some of the highlights here and also here. This time around I've tried to included some areas and rooms that weren't in the previous posts. Above is one of the many life size Nutcrackers that stand guard around the mansion and seem to be tucked into every corner.
Most of the rooms throughout the mansion have been decorated to depict a specific scene from the Nutcracker story. There are scheduled tours, narrated by Herr Drosselmeyer himself with musical and ballet performances. For the self-guided ones, each location has a book open to the story with accompanying illustrations set in the actual room at the Paine. Sugary treats are available, too.
The story starts off in the Gallery that has been transformed into the Stahlbaum's parlor on the night of Christmas Eve. One really nice feature in the Gallery is the children's play area.
There are costumes and special props available for those who want to indulge in a little dressing-up.
The sign said, "you can choose to be a ballerina or a knight", so HM picked both.
Luckily, procrastination can have it's benefits and we soon discovered we had the place completely to ourselves, except for a lone docent that we pestered mercilessly with questions. To be honest, the lack of visitors was probably due to the fact that the temperature that day was well below zero and a stiff breeze made it feel even worse. So this is what the main hall looks like without a crowd of people!
Most of the decorations throughout the rooms remain the same from year to year but the treats on the dining room table get a partial make-over each season.
I love the massive amount of ornaments on this tree and how the top of the it appears to be bent over from the weight of all of them! Wonder how long it takes to attach all those decorations?
The tree-shaped assembly of green macaroons is definitely new this season.
This amazing bronze railing is at the top of the steps that lead down into the conservatory breakfast room. Imagine finishing your cereal and then strolling out onto a terrace surrounded by beautiful trees and flowers. Ok, so right now it's actually covered in snow but still, what a way to live!
At the end of the first act of the ballet, after the defeat of the Mouse King the Nutcracker is transformed back into a Prince. He and Clara travel through a pine forest on the way to his kingdom and snowflakes dance around them in the moonlight. That seems like a good way to travel.
During the guided tours, the ballet numbers are performed in the Great Hall.
The trees on the left rotate so they look like they're joining in with the dancing.
These pages in the Great Hall storybook illustrate scenes from the Magic Castle in the Land of Sweets. When Clara and the Prince arrive, the Sugar Plum Fairy decides to honor them for defeating the Rat King. She brings in dancers from around the world to join in a celebration of sweets.
The actual trees from the illustration above, unfortunately they were too big to join in the dancing.
Back in the main hallway, the staircase leads to more decorated rooms.
Clara's room wouldn't be complete without a Nutcracker.
Her Christmas trees were done up in pink and decorated with ballerina and castle ornaments.
Further down the hall is the dressing room/closet-to-die-for that belongs to Clara's mother. It's currently also the showcase for two bronze sculptures by hometown artist, Helen Farnsworth Mears.
It seems one of the Christmas mice has borrowed the kitty's collar.
Finally, up among the rafters in the Gothic Gallery, there is a magical golden forest.
It's a beautiful end to a fun and interesting journey.
I couldn't find any references to golden forests in the Nutcracker ballet. However, I did learn that librettos are never set in stone so maybe someday someone will add one!
After the marvelous extravaganza of sparkling light we headed outside to spend some time in the garden before the sun set or we developed hypothermia.
At the far end of the property is the Conservatory where the Sugar Plum Fairy holds court. It was way too chilly for the fairies to be doling out cupcakes that day so we had to settled for a snoop around their new garden. It was looking so dramatic in the winter twilight, we didn't even miss the treats.
Hope everyone is staying warm, thanks for stopping by!