Ballet extravaganza in 2 acts with a prologue
Libretto by Marius Petipa revised by People`s Artist of Ukraine Sergey Bondur
based on the fairy tale by Ernst Hoffmann "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King"
Fragments of choreography by Vasily Vainonen are used
World premiere: Mariinsky Theater, St. Petersburg, December 6 (December 18 to the present) 1892 First production at the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater: 1950 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is rightfully considered a great reformer of ballet music. It was he who brought new dynamics to the classical interpretation of ballet, the through development of musical themes and images. These artistic principles are vividly reflected in the Christmas fairy tale “The Nutcracker”, written by order of the director of the imperial theaters Ivan Vsevolozhsky. The libretto for the performance was based on Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (from the Serapion Brothers cycle), retelling by Alexander Dumas, his father.
The plot of the ballet was outlined by Ivan Vsevolozhsky, the author of the program and choreography was Marius Petipa. Initially, Tchaikovsky did not like the content of The Nutcracker. Much more interest was aroused by the libretto of the opera Iolanta, which was offered to him at the same time (both of these works – a two-act ballet and a one-act opera were supposed to be staged in the same evening). However, Pyotr Ilyich gradually became interested in the new ballet. The music of The Nutcracker was first performed on March 7, 1892 at one of the St. Petersburg symphony concerts of the Russian Musical Society (RMO). According to the composer’s brother, Modest, “the success of the new work was great. Of the six numbers in the suite, five were repeated at the unanimous demand of the public. ”
The premiere took place on the same evening with Iolanta, on December 6, 1892, at the Mariinsky Theater (St. Petersburg). The parts of Fritz and Klara (Masha) were performed by pupils of the Imperial Theater School in St. Petersburg, who were to become graduates only a year later. The director of “The Nutcracker” was Lev Ivanov, who at the beginning of work on the play replaced the seriously ill Marius Petipa. The scenery for the first act was created by Konstantin Ivanov, the second – by the academician of painting Mikhail Bocharov. The costumes were prepared according to the sketches of Ivan Vsevolozhsky.
The Nutcracker first appeared in the repertoire of the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater in 1950 in a choreographic reading by Vakhtang Vronsky. Subsequently, choreographers Igor Chernyshev (1969), Natalya Ryzhenko (1985), Vladimir Troshchenko (2008) offered their original versions of the ballet on the theater stage, taking into account the experience of their predecessors, but focusing on their own understanding of Tchaikovsky’s music, personal aesthetic inclinations and demands of the time. The choreographers’ journey to comprehending the music of The Nutcracker turned out to be a long one, and the score of this ballet remains incredibly attractive for the ballet theater of the 21st century.
In a small German town the preparations are being made for Christmas ball hosted by the burgomaster Stahlbaum. Drosselmeyer has also received an invitation to the party. He enthusiastically tells his nephew the story of how he once defeated the seven-headed Mouse Queen. Suddenly, a flock of mice rushes into the room. A new Mouse King, who has long sought to avenge the death of his mother, leads it. He turns Drosselmeyer’s beloved nephew into a Nutcracker toy and disappears. Drosselmeyer is in despair. Only the appearance of Fairy eases his grief: the young fellow will be able to become a man again, if he defeats the Mouse King, and a beautiful girl has to fall in love with him. The Fairy grants a magic wand and points to a portrait of Maria, Drosselmeyer’s goddaughter, who will help remove the spell.
The citizens are hurrying to Stahlbaum’s ball. Drosselmeyer is among them, he has prepared many gifts and surprises for his godchildren. The ball is in full swing. The appearance of a mysterious guest in a mask attracts everyone’s attention. His abilities to vivify toys, mysterious tricks and puppet show delight the children, but it involuntarily causes fear, like any mysterious thing. To dispel it, Drosselmeyer removes his mask and the children recognize their beloved godfather. He gives their godchildren wonderful gifts: Fritz gets a trumpet and Maria – the Nutcracker toy. The girl is fascinated by her gift, although none of the children likes the toy. But for her, this is not just a toy for cracking nuts, it seems to her more like a living person, though clumsy, but with a gentle and pure soul. Maria’s brother, Fritz, a rantipole and mocker, constantly frightens the girl. The clock reminds the guests that the holiday has come to the end. Everyone says goodbye to the hosts, and Drosselmeyer promises Maria that a fairy tale will start here at midnight.
Exactly at twelve o’clock, the room becomes a fairyland: a tree is beginning to grow, snow is falling. The mice are waiting for their invincible King. A fabulous cannon shot is heralding the start of a battle between the Nutcracker that has revived and the army of mice. The Nutcracker fights dashingly, but the forces are not equal. Maria is in despair – her favourite is in danger. Drosselmeyer comes to help and gives Maria a shoe. The girl throws it at the mice and they, being frightened, are rushing away in all directions. The girl comes to the wounded Nutcracker and touches him. And suddenly he turns into a handsome prince. Real feelings come to them. Whirling in a dance, the loving couple is carried to a fabulous snow-covered forest. Drosselmeyer invites the Prince and Maria to the Land of Happiness, but the Mouse King also hurries after them.
Little angels and Fairy show Maria and Prince the way to a fabulous grotto. The Mouse King is blocking their way. The prince challenges it to battle and defeats the enemy. The Prince and Maria find themselves in the fairytale palace of Happiness. There, familiar dolls come to life and dance, guests rejoice at victory. Maria and the Nutcracker-Prince are happy – they have reached the dream realm. But this is just a fairy tale. New Year’s Eve has passed and amazing dreams have passed with it.
A street of the small German town. Drosselmeyer is walking with his nephew. They meet a lady who looks like Fairy and Drosselmeyer gives her the magic wand. And here is the Stahlbaums. Maria draws attention to Drosselmeyer’s nephew, who is so similar to the Prince from the fairy tale. Or maybe this is he? … After all, when you believe deeply in a fairy tale, then it will definitely come true.