Belatedly, my “Nutcracker” review in last week’s Chronicle:

“In a winter of belt-tightening economic gloom – and as a silver lining, one hopes, a Christmastime not reduced to mere shopping – let’s get the consumer advice out of the way. Is San Francisco Ballet’s “Nutcracker” worth the outlay? The giggling children and shining parents at the War Memorial Opera House on Thursday suggested a “yes” that can’t be measured in ticket prices.

Five seasons after the unveiling of Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson’s luxurious production, the verdict is clear: This is one of the best “Nutcrackers” in the country and, by my estimation, the most visually elegant. The setting – 1915 San Francisco, with Clara dreaming about sights from the Panama-Pacific Exposition – is ingenious. The choice of a teenage Clara on the cusp of maturity makes for seamlessly satisfying storytelling.

The scenery – fog-shrouded Victorians, and for the second act a crystal palace that evokes the Conservatory of Flowers – is gorgeous. The battle between the toy soldiers and the mice is one of the cleverest in the business. My only serious complaint is that Tomasson’s “Waltz of the Flowers,” which ought to be an exuberant highpoint, feels cold and sterile. ”

Oodles of photos online, if you click here for the rest of the review.

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