The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: This year the Madison Ballet returns to Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” with live music – from the Madison Symphony Orchestra and maestro John DeMain. Plus, the 2012 Richard Tucker Opera Gala airs tonight from 8 to 10 on PBS. | December 13, 2012

ALERT: Tonight on PBS and Wisconsin Public Television from 8 to 10 p.m., “Live From Lincoln Center” will feature the 2012 Richard Tucker Gala Opera award winners. It includes Ailyn Perez (below, in a photo by Paul Mitchell), the first Hispanic to receive the prestigious award. For more information and program notes, visit:

Ailyn Perez

By Jacob Stockinger

If I remember correctly – always an issue these days with The Ear – the Madison Ballet and its longtime (13 years) artistic director and chief choreographer W. Earle Smith (below) used to stage Tchaikovsky’s evergreen holiday ballet “The Nutcracker” very engagingly every year with live music, performed beautifully by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.

w. earle smith

Then several years ago, budget crunches forced the ballet company to make cutbacks and turn to a recorded soundtrack.

But now apparently things are looking up again.

This year, the Madison Ballet will again stage its annual production.

Madison Ballet Nutcracker 2012

But this year the music will return to being live, which should add immeasurably to the captivating thrill of the tuneful holiday dance production.

Moreover, the live music will be provided by members of the Madison Symphony Orchestra under the baton of MSO music director and conductor John DeMain (below, in a photo by Greg Anderson).

John DeMain conducting

Performances last two hours and are scheduled to run from this Friday, Dec. 15, through Monday, Dec. 24 in Overture Hall. Tickets are $14-$59.

For information about performances and tickets, you can:

Call the Overture Center Box Office at (608) 258-4141.


Visit the Madison Ballet at

Madison Ballet Nutcracker 2012 cr Andrew Weeks

The pictures certainly make the sets and costumes also look beautiful as an addition to the infectious score — in the hands of maestro John DeMain who is a masterful accompanist for opera, concertos and, one also assumes, ballet — that sparkles with familiar gems.

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