George Frederick Handel

George Frederick Handel

The reborn Granada Theatre has clearly hit the ground running. Not only has it wooed CAMA and the Santa Barbara Symphony into its concert hall, it now appears to have captured the triple crown of Christmas favorites — Handel’s The Messiah, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, and Santa Barbara Choral Society, under the direction of Joanne Wasserman, has moved permanently to the Granada, too, and not just for its performances of The Messiah — 8 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday — but for the rest of its 2008-09 season as well. The Music Academy of the West is also involved, for the four soloists in Handel’s masterpiece were chosen by the academy’s Marilyn Horne from academy alumni: Julie Davis, soprano; Ana Mihanovic, alto; Joshua Stewart, tenor; Evan Hughes, bass.

Tickets to The Messiah range from $20 to $125.

The State Street Ballet has moved to the Granada, as well. The ballet offers its new production of Tchaikovsky’s ballet, The Nutcracker, there next weekend. The three performances of this classic have show times slanted toward those who have to be in bed early: 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 13 and 2 p.m. Dec. 14. The production features the State Street Ballet, with the students of Gustafson Dance. The operative word is “opulence.”

Clara’s adventures in the Mouse Kingdom have been a Christmas favorite since its premiere performance, choreographed by Marius Petipa (though Leo Ivanov is sometimes credited), on Dec. 18, 1892. Tchaikovsky and Petipa were commissioned to write the ballet by the director of the Imperial Theatres, Ivan Vsevolozhsky.

Peter Tchaikovsky

Peter Tchaikovsky

Tchaikovsky was not particularly happy with his score. The bright spot, in his eyes, was that it enabled him to win a bet with a friend who wagered that Tchaikovsky could not write a melody based on the notes of the octave in sequence, in ascending or descending order. The piece that won the bet was the Grand adage, which comes just after the Waltz of the Flowers.

There will be a “Sugar Plum” party for children following the matinees.

Now, we come to A Christmas Carol, or, as Charles Dickens originally called it A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. This is The Granada’s first house production, the first in its “enTRANCE! Subscriber Series.” It will be fully staged, with Ebeneezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, Marley’s Ghost, and the ever popular trio of spirits, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet-to-Come.

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

In A Christmas Carol, the archetypal skinflint Scrooge is forced to examine his life through a series of supernatural journeys guided by the above-mentioned ghosts. Like so much of what Dickens touched, the story turned to gold — he had written it to pay off some debts. (Indeed, all three of the works previewed here made dramatic improvements in their creators’ bank balances.) First published in 1843, it has been the second most popular Christmas story ever written — the most popular can be found in Matthew and Luke. In this story, Dickens invented Christmas for England and America.

A Christmas Carol premieres at 8 p.m. Dec. 20, with seven additional performances. Call The Granada for times and dates. Tickets are $55, $45, $35, and $25.

Click here for ticket information or call the Granada box office at 805.899.2222.

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