History of its Creation
“The Nutcracker” Ballet created by one of the most famous Russian composers Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was shown for the first time on 18 December 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg. It was performed along with Tchaikovsky’s Opera, Yolanta.
More than 120 years passed, and this performance is still an integral part of any Christmas celebration, along with a Christmas tree and presents. Follow this link to find out more about Nutcracker Ballet and where to buy tickets.
Original production of The Nutcracker (Imperial Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, 1892.
After the triumph of “Sleeping Beauty”, director of the Imperial Theatres Ivan Aleksandrovich Vsevolozhskiy invited Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to compose for a double bill consisting of a one-act Opera and a two-acts Ballet.
The Opera became Yolanta and the Ballet was The Nutcracker.
Marius Petipa created the scenario, which was based on one of the Tales of Hoffmann, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” Tale “, and Lev Ivanov became a choreographer of the show.
Hoffman’s original work showed humanity’s dark-sided nature and was definitely not appropriate for children.
Hoffmann’s story had been freely adapted into French by Alexandre Dumas and it was from this version that Vsevolozhskiy and Petipa mapped out a ballet scenario, the latter with detailed specifications as in the case of “Sleeping Beauty”.
It is believed that this great team worked in a perfect harmony. Technically, yes – but indeed they didn’t understand each other. Despite the fact that Tchaikovsky highly appreciated achievements of the famous choreographer, his music was quite complicated for the stage.
Marius Petipa became ill during the Nutcracker‘s creation and withdrew himself. His assistant of seven years, Lev Ivanov, took his place and completed the choreography, based on another scheme, which gave the opportunity to choreographers to modify or add something.
Though Ivanov’s style of dance differed from Petipa, it was hardly noticeable as Petipa left strict guidelines for Ivanov to follow.
After him, many choreographers took upon the difficult role of interpreters of “The Nutcracker”: Alexander Gorsky, F. Lopukhov, V. Vaynonen, Yuri Grigorovich and others – each of them took into account the previous experience and offered his own version of the famous Ballet.
At first, Tchaikovsky was not attracted to the subject, but he became more reconciled to it as he progressed. Eventually he decided that the music was better than that for his Opera Yolanta.
Interest in the Ballet was aroused by the Concert Suite that the composer himself arranged from it and which was performed some nine months before the stage production. Why this happened remains a mystery, unless Tchaikovsky was afraid other composers might find out about his ‘secret instrument’ which he had specially brought from Paris: the tinkling celesta, its bell-like sound forever to be associated with the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Almost every number in the Suite was encored as soon as it was heard, and this ‘Nutcracker Suite’ later became so popular that the Ballet is still sometimes thought to be a confection arranged only to this music, whereas, in fact, the suite contains less than a quarter of the full score.
The full Ballet was unknown in the West until a production at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London, on 30 January 1934, with Alicia Markova and Stanley Judson (followed in 1937 by Margot Fonteyn and Robert Helpmann). Since 1944 it has become a universal favourite, especially at Christmas time.
The Nutcracker‘s full length production first appeared in the United States in 1944, by the San Francisco Opera Ballet under the direction of William Christe
At the Hermitage,Theatre premiere of “The Nutcracker” was held on 13th January 2007. Vasiliy Vaynonen’s edition was presented to the audience. Veronika Ivanova and Nikita Shcheglov, Natalia Bashkirtseva and Yuri Mirov were shining in the roles of Marie and the Nutcracker. Colourful holiday, fantastic magic tricks, bright puppets, Christmas tree lights, aerial dance of snowflakes and surprisingly touching story of Marie and the Nutcracker didn’t leave viewers cold.
“The Nutcracker” supplemented the repertoire of the world’s best Ballet, performing in the Hermitage Theatre.