Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker score was commissioned by the director of the Russian Imperial Theatres, following the resounding success of Sleeping Beauty in 1890.
Marius Petipa created the scenario – based on a fairytale by E. T. A. Hoffman – and Lev Ivanov provided the choreography. The Nutcracker was first performed in 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. It initially had a poor reception, but its combination of enchanting choreography and an unforgettable score have since made it one of the best-loved of all ballets.
In Peter Wright's classic production, the stage sparkles with theatrical magic – a Christmas tree grows before our eyes, toy soldiers come to life to fight the villainous Mouse King and Clara is whisked to the Land of Sweets on a golden sleigh.
Tchaikovsky's score contains some of the best-known melodies in ballet, from the flurrying sounds of the Waltz of the Snowflakes to the dream-like Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and the vigorous Russian Dance. Julia Trevelyan Oman's designs draw upon 19th-century images of Christmas, making this a classic production for the festive season.
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