The Nutcracker ballet; a magical Christmas event
Going to the ballet can be a lovely way to spend an evening, but around Christmas time, it’s a particularly popular choice of night time entertainment. The Nutcracker is one of the most famous ballets and is almost always shown during the festive season. The story itself is all about magic, with fantasy and reality colliding and so it is perfectly suited to the Christmas period.
In the UK this December, the Nutcracker will be performed in the Royal Opera House and the English National Opera, to name just a few. For those unfamiliar with the tale, here’s a quick guide to this beautiful story.
The Nutcracker ballet was based on a book called ‘’The Nutcracker and the Mouse King’’, written by Ernst Hoffman. In the last decade of the 19th century, Peter Tchaikovsky composed the music for the ballet adaption of this book and the first performance was held in Russia, in the year 1892.
The story is set in Germany, in the 1800’s and begins on Christmas Eve. In the house of the Stahlbaum family, a party is being held. Herr Drosselmeyer, the godfather of the two children Fritz and Clara, comes bearing gifts in the form of large dancing dolls. Clara is presented with the nutcracker doll, whilst Fritz is given a toy train. When bedtime arrives, Clara falls asleep holding the nutcracker doll and begins to have an amazing dream.
In her dream, Clara awakens to find her living room is filled with toys which have come alive. All of the toy soldiers which belong to Fritz are now marching around the room, as is the Nutcracker. A battle commences between the mice belonging to the Mouse King with his mice and the Nutcracker with his soldiers. Clara lends a helping hand and eventually the Mouse King is defeated.
The snow scene then begins. This is when Clara is transformed into a princess, after the Nutcracker gives her his crown. This scene is essentially a beautiful dance amid the snow, between the Nutcracker Prince and Clara.
The Land of the Sweets follows the Snow scene; Clara and the Nutcracker travel by boat to this land and it is here that they meet the Sugar Plum Fairy. The music which accompanies the fairy, called the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy is probably one of the most famous in this ballet. In this land, there are a range of dances performed, including the Waltz of the Flowers and the Arabian Dance, as well as many other. Another dance between Clara and the Prince ensues.
The final scene shows Clara waking up beside the Christmas tree, clutching the nutcracker doll. Here Clara wonders about the previous night; whether or not her adventure with the Nutcracker Prince was just a dream. This scene concludes the tale. A truly captivating story, this ballet is a must see during the Christmas season.