The Nutcracker

The premiere of The Nutcracker transformed classical ballet into a fairy-tale and became one of Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky’s most famous compositions, as well as one of the most popular ballets in the world.

Featuring a timeless score from this gifted composer, The Nutcracker is a renowned ballet classic presenting, as it does, evocative music and exquisite dance.

This ballet, with its mystery and romance, has captured the imagination of many generations over the years and continues to attract large audiences worldwide.

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The Nutcracker



Swindon, Wyvern Theatre

Theatre Square, Swindon


Shrewsbury, Theatre Severn

Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury


Shrewsbury, Theatre Severn

Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury


Lincoln, New Theatre Royal

Clasketgate, Lincoln


Llandudno, Venue Cymru

The Promenade, Llandudno


Dundee, Caird Hall

City Square, Dundee


Newcastle, Tyne Theatre and Opera House

Westgate Road, Newcastle



The Story

The Christmas story is based on The Nutcracker and the Mouse King written by E.T.A. Hoffmann. It tells the story of Marie, a melancholy little girl, whose godfather Drosselmeyer gives her a nutcracker doll as a present on Christmas Eve. But the simple wooden nutcracker turns into a prince and the magic starts…

After creeping downstairs at midnight to play with her new doll, Marie is swept up by the ultimate Christmas fantasy when her new present comes magically to life. With the aid of a box full of toy soldiers found under the Christmas tree, the Nutcracker defeats the army of the evil Mouse King who has invaded her house.

Lying mortally wounded after the battle, the Marie’s Nutcracker is transformed into a handsome prince. He whisks her away through a winter wonderland to the Land of Snow and then on to the Land of Sweets where the Sugar Plum Fairy entertains them like royalty with festive dances in recognition of the Prince’s heroic defeat of the Mouse King.

This sequence is regarded as one of the finest moments in classical ballet and includes The Spanish Dance, The Arabian Dance, The Russian Dance, The Chinese Dance, The Waltz of the Flowers and The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

The History of Nutcracker

The Nutcracker saw its first performance on the 18th December 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg. It was staged alongside Tchaikovsky’s opera, Yolanta. Even after more than one hundred and twenty years this ballet remains an integral treat of any Christmas celebration, along with a Christmas tree and presents.

Original production of The Nutcracker at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg in 1892.

After the triumph of Sleeping Beauty, the director of the Imperial Theatres, Ivan Aleksandrovich Vsevolozhskiy, invited Tchaikovsky to compose a double-bill consisting of a one-act opera and a two-act ballet.

The opera was 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. Lev Ivanov was appointed to choreograph the show.

Hoffman’s original work showed the dark side of human nature and was definitely not appropriate for children.

The 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 giving detailed specifications, as was the case for Sleeping Beauty.

Although it is believed that technically the team work well together and that the composer appreciated the famous choreographer’s work, there were issues over transforming Tchaikovsky’s complicated score for the stage.

Marius Petipa became ill during the Nutcracker’s creation and left the production. His assistant of seven years, Lev Ivanov, took his place and completed the choreography. This was based on another scheme, which gave the opportunity to future choreographers to modify or make additions.

Though Ivanov’s style of dance differed from Petipa, it was hardly noticeable as Petipa left strict guidelines for Ivanov to follow.

After Petipa, many choreographers took on 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 productions but offered their own version of the ballet.

Initially Tchaikovsky was not attracted to the story but he became more reconciled to it as he progressed. Eventually, he preferred it to his opera Yolanta.

Interest in the ballet was created by the concert suite that the composer himself arranged from the ballet score 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. Consequently, the Nutcracker Suite became so popular that the ballet is still sometimes thought to be a dance 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 was staged at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London, on 30th 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 first full-length production of The Nutcracker in the United States was in 1944 by the San Francisco Opera Ballet under the direction of William Christe.

The Hermitage Theatre premiere of The Nutcracker was held on 13th January 2007 in which Vasiliy Vaynonen’s version was presented. Veronika Ivanova and Nikita Shcheglov, Natalia Bashkirtseva and Yuri Mirov shone in the roles of Marie and the Nutcracker. A colourful holiday atmosphere, fantastic magic tricks, lively puppets, Christmas tree lights, the aerial dancing of snowflakes and the surprisingly touching story of Marie and The Nutcracker enthused audiences of all ages world-wide.

Chesterfield Pomegranate Threatre
Swindon Wyvern Theatre

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