Music – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
The Nutcracker is a ballet by Pyotr Tchaikovsky in two acts on the libretto by Marius Petipa based on the fairy tale by E. T. A. Hoffmann The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.
The literary basis for the creation of the ballet was the fairy tale by Hoffmann, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.
The tale of Hoffmann was first published in 1816 in Berlin.
1835-1909 Ivan Alexandrovich Vsevolozhsky decided to create a ballet based on the fairy tale The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The director of the imperial theaters, I.Vsevolozhsky, searched and constantly looked through a lot of materials – everything that could be used as a libretto or the basis for theatrical productions.
The premiere of the ballet took place on December 6 (18), 1892 at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg.
The Nutcracker holds a special place among the late works of P. I. Tchaikovsky; It stands apart from the tradition of the ballet genre, innovatively applied musical images.
Guests are arriving for a New Year’s Eve party at the Stahlbaums’ house. Among them is Drosselmeier, godfather to the Stahlbaums’ children, Marie and Fritz. He has a delightful gift in store for them: a funny Nutcracker.
The children wait anxiously to be allowed to see the Christmas tree and the presents. At last, the long-anticipated moment comes: the festively decorated Christmas tree is displayed to everyone’s delight.
Dressed as a magician, there suddenly enters Drosselmeier, unrecognized by the children. The mysterious newcomer’s skill to bring toys to life enraptures them but, like anything enigmatic, it involuntarily arouses fear in them. To dismiss it, Drosselmeier unmasks himself, and the children discover in him their darling godfather.
Marie wants to play with the lovely moving dolls, but they have already been put away. Trying to cheer the girl up, Drosselmeier gives her the Nutcracker. She fancies the funny, clumsy little man.
Fritz, Marie’s brother, a prankish and naughty boy, accidentally breaks the doll. Marie caresses her wounded protégé, holding and rocking him gently in her arms. The guests return from the adjoining room. After finishing the final formal dance, the Grossvater, everyone leaves.
Night-time. The parlor where the Christmas tree has been set up is moonlit. It looks mysterious and miraculous. Conquering the fear, Marie has tiptoed in to look at her sick Nutcracker. She takes him in her arms, rocking him softly.
At this moment Drosselmeier appears. This time he is not simply Marie’s kind godfather, but a wizard. At the wave of his hand the whole room begins to transform: the walls shift and the tree starts to get larger. So do the toys, which have now come to life.
Suddenly mice come trotting out of the floor, led by the Mouse King. It is only the Nutcracker’s resourcefulness and valor that saves everyone: having placed the toy soldiers in line, he fearlessly leads them to battle the mouse army. Unfortunately, the forces are unequal. The Nutcracker ends up fighting the Mouse King and his mice alone. Marie is in despair: her favorite is about to be killed. She removes one of her shoes and throws it at the mice, causing them to scatter away in terror.
The battlefield clears. Only the Nutcracker remains, lying still on the floor. Marie rushes to his rescue when a miracle happens…
A handsome youth, the Nutcracker Prince, emerges before the girl and walks forward to meet her.
The walls of the house disappear. Marie and the Nutcracker Prince find themselves standing under a starry sky, beside the wonder-tree.
Soft snowflakes whirl around in a magic dance. A big star twinkles at the top of the tree, beaconing Marie and the Nutcracker Prince like a mesmerizing dream.
Marie and the Nutcracker Prince are now in the Christmas tree kingdom. The fellow dolls are all there, too. The shining star seems to be drawing nearer…
As they nearly reach the top of the tree, the mice, who have been creeping behind them all the way up with the Mouse King, attack again. The Nutcracker Prince fights another courageous battle. Terrified, Marie and the dolls watch him resist the enemy. The mouse army is eventually defeated.
Everyone gaily celebrates the victory. With the dolls dancing around and the candles burning brighter, the Christmas tree comes alive. The wicked mice are vanquished! Marie and the Nutcracker Prince are joyful as they have reached the kingdom of their dreams.
Yet it turns out to be merely a midnight fantasy… Now that New Year’s Eve is over, all the fantastic reveries have vanished… Marie, still under the spell of the fair dream she has experienced, is sitting beside her Christmas tree, with the Nutcracker doll on her lap.