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New ‘Nutcracker’, Talib Kweli, Taymor’s ‘Flute’: N.Y. Weekend

Talib Kweli
Rap musician Talib Kweli at the Four Mile Burn site in Boulder, Colorado. Kweli will be at the Highline Ballroom in New York, on Dec. 26 at 10 p.m. Photographer: Cary Jobe/Jill Newman Productions via Bloomberg

Dec. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Watch polar bears dance, three boys fly on a great bird and the wicked Queen of the Night get really riled up: “The vengeance of hell boils in my heart!”

The Metropolitan Opera is offering a 100-minute, English language version of the Julie Taymor production of Mozart’s “Magic Flute” tonight with Russell Thomas, Nathan Gunn and Erika Miklosa heading up the cast.

As you may have heard, Taymor is currently trying to work out a few kinks in a little Broadway project featuring Spider-Man.

Lincoln Center, Broadway at 64th St. Information: +1-212-362-6000; http://www.metoperafamily.org.

Christmas Eve Service

Join the congregation at the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin to celebrate good tidings.

Founded to preserve the Catholic tradition within the Episcopal Church, it’s fondly known as “Smoky Mary’s” owing to the copious use of incense.

James Kennerley is the great organist here, playing the noble Aeolian-Skinner instrument and leading the music program, which tonight features the Mass in G minor by Ralph Vaughan Williams, John Tavener’s “The Lamb,” and “A Spotless Rose” by Herbert Howells.

Christmas music and carols begin at 10:30 p.m., and the Procession and Solemn Pontifical Mass get underway at 11 p.m.

145 W. 46th St. Information: +1-212-869-5830; http://www.stmvirgin.org.

Saturday

“Rock over and bite.” That’s excellent advice for those taking to the ice for a round of communal skating.

An intimate little rink famously sits at the center of Rockefeller Center, watched over by a recumbent and gilded Prometheus.

Now when you perform your toe loops and double axels, the giant Norway spruce, shimmering with five miles of LED lights, towers above you in all its Christmas glory.

Can’t skate? Lessons and rentals are available.

Fifth Ave. between 49th and 50th St. Information: +1-212-332-7654; http://www.rockefellercenter.com.

Stroll over to Le Parker Meridien’s Knave cafe for some hot chocolate and cookies.

While there, admire the lobby exhibit of spiffy gingerbread creations cooked up by local bakers.

They’re based on movies shot in New York, and include the Buttercup Bakeshop West Side’s take on “Big,” Tribeca Treats riffing on “Ghostbusters” and Norma’s tribute to “King Kong.”

Vote for your favorite with a $1 donation. All proceeds go to City Harvest, which feeds the hungry.

119 W. 56th St. Information: +1-212-245-5000; http://www.parkermeridien.com.

Saturday Afternoon

Pay a visit to Ida and Gus and watch them play with their big polar bear toys at the Central Park Zoo. There’s an underwater vantage point so you can watch them romp with giant tubes.

Harbor seals get fed at 2:15 and 4:15 p.m., while gentoo, chinstrap and king penguins get their fish at 2:30 p.m.

Don’t miss the newest exhibit -- Zoe the snow leopard, one of the world’s most critically endangered big cats.

64th St. and Fifth Ave. Information: +1-212-439-6500; http://www.centralparkzoo.com.

Saturday Evening

Feast on fish yourself at Le Bernardin. Chef Eric Ripert is offering a special holiday truffle tasting menu, which begins with slivers of fluke, moves through sea scallops, warm Dodge Cove oysters, halibut and yellowfin kingfish, before the climactic baked lobster.

Accompanying truffles come foamed, emulsified and shaved into vinaigrette, broth and bordelaise sauce.

Reserve a spot in the Salon if you also crave venison with foie gras.

155 W. 51st St. Information: +1-212-554-1515.

Sunday

Catch a performance of the brand-new “Nutcracker,” fresh from the creative brain of Alexei Ratmansky, American Ballet Theatre’s artist in residence.

Largely faithful to the E.T.A. Hoffmann story and Tchaikovsky’s glorious score, the choreographer has darkened some aspects of the ballet. The Mouse King and his band of rodents are really scary!

And the snowflake scene has become a cold Russian blizzard that batters the children.

At the Brooklyn Academy of Music Sunday at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., “The Nutcracker” runs through Jan. 2. Information: +1-718-636-4100; http://www.abt.org.

Sunday Night

Hit the Highline Ballroom for Talib Kweli who will no doubt be “bangin’ on your eardrum” with guests Jean Grae, Strong Arm Steady, Pete Rock and DJ K-Salaam.

The Brooklyn-born rapper rose to prominence with Black Star, his collaboration with Mos Def, and has garnered truck-loads of praise from hip-hop heavy-hitters Jay-Z and Kanye West.

Socially conscious yet still banging, Kweli’s verses will help shake off holiday overindulgence.

431 W. 16th St. Information: +1-212-414-5994; http://www.highlineballroom.com.

Post-show, head into the heart of the Meatpacking District and grab a drink at multi-level Brass Monkey.

55 Little W. 12th St. Information: +1-212-675-6686.

(With assistance from Catherine Smith and Lili Rosboch. Zinta Lundborg is an editor for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Zinta Lundborg at zlundborg@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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