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Music: Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Libretto: Marius Petipa based on the story by E. T. A. Hoffmann
Choreography: Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov, with revised choreography by Vasily Vajnonen
Orchestra: St. Petersburg State Governor's Symphony orchestra
At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries Russian ballet entered into the most brilliant period of its history. The success of the Nutcracker was because Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s music and the immortal Marius Petipa wrote its stage direction on the basis of E. T. A. Hoffman’s fairy-tale “The Nutcracker and The Mouse King”. Lev Ivanov created the choreography of the ballet.
The first performance of the ballet “The Nutcracker” took place on the 6th of December 1892 on the stage of The Mariinsky theatre. But this ballet has been changing all through the 20th century. Why?
Pyotr Tchaikovsky appreciated outstanding achievements of the renowned choreographer Marius Petipa. As it turned out the music for "The Nutcracker" was rather difficult for adaptation to the stage because the composer was seeking to create this music as a symphony not a ballet musical, and secondly, the level of ballet of that period wasn’t as high as the level of the symphony music. Marius Petipa didn’t want to retell the story of this family party and gave his pupil, Lev Ivanov, the opportunity to make his own choreography of the ballet but according to his stage direction. That’s why a great number of choreographers in the future have had the opportunity to give their own interpretations to this ballet. After Lev Ivanovm, such famous choreographers as Alexander Gorsky, Fedor Lopukhov, Vasily Vainonen, Yury Grigorovich, and others were some of them. Each of them were influenced by the previous choreographers and offered a new version of this world famous ballet based on the thrilling and tragical music of the great composer.
At the Hermitage theatre, the premiere of "The Nutcracker" was held on the 13th of January, 2007. Under the stage direction of Vasily Vainonen the ballet was performed to the great delight of the audience. Brilliant dancers such as Veronica Ivanova and Nikita Shcheglov, Natalia Bashkirtseva and Yury Mirov performed in rolrs of Masha and the Nutcracker. Colorful celebrations, fantastic tricks, beautiful dolls the Christmas-tree with bright lights, the aerial dance of snowflakes and the touching story of Masha and the Nutcracker left the audience in awe of the spectacle.
A Hall in Herr Stahlbaum’s house. Guests are arriving for the Christmas Eve party. Drosselmeyer, an inventor and toy master loved by children, is among the guests. He has prepared a wonderful gift for them, the Nutcracker, a toy for cracking nuts. The children are impatiently waiting for the beginning of the celebrations. The long awaited moment comes and the Christmas tree with bright lights appears before the guests. Suddenly Drosselmeyer appears in the costume of a magician. After performing wonderful tricks he removes his mask and children recognize him. Drosselmeyer presents his gift and tells a story about his gift, The Nutcracker.
“Once upon a time in a faraway kingdom the King, Queen and little Princess Perlipat were living. In the cellar of the Palace the Mouse king was living with hundreds of mice. The Little Princess was a very beautiful but very spoiled child. One day she teased the Mouse king. He became angry and turned her into an ugly girl. There was only one chance to remove the spell from the Princess. The spell could only be broken if a Beautiful Prince managed to crack the magic nut, Krakatuck. One day a Beautiful Prince came and cracked the nut and the miracle came true! The Princess again became beautiful! But in revenge the Mouse King turned the Beautiful Prince into The Nutcracker.
Masha is charmed with sad story of the doll and she ties a blue ribbon to him and gives him a rank of Field Marshal.
Franz, Masha’s brother, appears in the Hall. He’s interested in a new doll. But Masha doesn’t give him a doll. Franz takes away the Nutcracker and the head comes off in his hands. Drosselmeyer quickly mends the doll. Masha cuddles her favorite doll.
The Hall is again full of noisy merriment. But the party comes to end. After the last dance of the ceremony, grandfather’s guests leave Herr’s Stahlbaum’s house.
Masha rocks to sleep The Nutcracker and falls asleep.
That night. The Hall with the Christmas tree is flooded by moonlight. Masha is awakened by the strange noises. She hears rustle and scratching. Masha becomes afraid! She wants to run away! Before she can flee the clock is striking and the Hall is filling with hundreds of mice headed by The Mouse King. They want to ravage The Christmas tree. Suddenly The Nutcracker becomes alive. Fearlessly he blocks the way to the mice. But the Mice continue to attack. The Nutcracker leads the tin soldiers into the battle. The Nutcracker fights with The Mouse King. It appears the Mouse King can win! Masha is in despair! Overcoming her fear she throws a candle at the Mouse King and diverts his attention. The Nutcracker takes this opportunity and defeats The Mouse King. Them mice disappear. The Hall become empty and only one Nutcracker lies still on the floor.
Suddenly a miracle happens: Masha becomes an adult and turns into a Princess and The Nutcracker turns into the Beautiful Prince. He is coming to meet Masha. The walls disappear and they find themselves in a heavenly place. Snow is falling and snowflakes are whirling in a magic dance.
At the Magic Palace of Konfeturenburg Masha and Prince-Nutcracker arrive. Fairy Drazhe and Prince Orshad greet the guests. Everybody thank Masha for saving the Prince-Nutcracker’s. Fairy Drazhe announces the beginning of a celebration to honor the Prince and Masha. They are delighted. They dance and celebrate with others. All good things come to an end and Masha and Prince Nutcracker have to leave the magic kingdom.
In the Hall with the Christmas tree in Herr Stahlbaum’s house Masha awakes and realizes that everything that happened was only a wonderful dream. She is only a little girl again. And the Nutcracker, a little toy, lies in her hands.