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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Mystifying Conversation

“What’s your little girl’s name?”

“Klara.”

“Oh, like in the Nutcracker? Is that why you brought her to the ballet school?”

I know Masha is in the ballet. But what does the name Klara have to do with it?

Klara is the youngest kid in the ballet class but she’s the best at following directions. She sits there very quietly, observing everything, and then does exactly what the teacher asks. I’m not sure it’s a good sign.

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15 thoughts on “Mystifying Conversation

  1. Evelina Anville on said:

    Klara is the main character in The Nutcracker— the little girl.

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  2. Depending on where you’re from, the little girl character in the Nutcracker has one of three names: Clara, Marie, or Masha. So that’s probably what the person was referring to.

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  3. Klara is the main character!

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    • This is very confusing.

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      • Okay. So, in the original, the character’s name was Marie, and Klara was the name of her doll. In 1847, though, another version of the script was released, with the main character’s name as Klara (it sounds like this wasn’t an issue in translation, but in creative license taken by the writer/producer). Since all modern productions of The Nutcracker are derived from these two scripts, sometimes she’s Marie (or Maria), and sometimes she’s Klara (or Clara). In the Russian version, she’s called Masha, which I’m guessing indicates the origin of the script used in the Russian version is the original.

        The version I saw every year (on video, alas, never in person), was a German version, and the girl’s name was Klara, which means the script was based on the 1847 production.

        So the name of the main character depends on whichever version a particular script was based on. It also depends on the production company, and however they choose to interpret the script. I’ve been told that in some scripts, she’s referred to as Masha/Klara, or Marie/Clara, etc.

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  4. I looked on a half dozen wikipedia pages and in most languages she’s Clara or Klara. The German page calls her “Clara, im russischen Original Mascha”.

    The Russian wikipedia starts the list of characters with:

    Штальбаум
    Его жена
    Их дети:
    Клара (Мари, Маша), принцесса
    Фриц (Миша)

    It could be the name was changed somewhere during the writing process or for some other reason (the way the locale of one of Verdi’s operas was changed from Stockholm to New Orleans….)

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  5. The English wikipedia says in the original story (by Hoffmann) the girl was Marie and her doll was Clara, but it seems in most of the world she’s Clara/Klara now.

    Maybe the original name in Čajkovskij’s version was Klara (for some reason) but was then felt to be too Jewish for something associated with Christmas? IIRC Klara is named after your Jewish grandmother? Does the name have Jewish connotations in Russian speaking places?

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  6. On the positive side maybe you can use this to get (some) people to pronounce her name right… Klara… as in the Nutcracker suite…

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  7. “then does exactly what the teacher asks. I’m not sure it’s a good sign”

    To paraphrase from an author you don’t like…. She doesn’t have experience with irrational or non-sensical requests at home and so she assumes the instructor’s requests all make sense.

    By the time she gets to elementary school (or sometime in the first grade) she’ll have plenty of experience with irrational and non-sensical requests and she’ll get some filters in place.

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