Peter Tchaikovsky "Nutcracker and the Mouse King" (ballet in 2 acts)
Ballet by Christian Spuck after the eponymous fairy tale by E.T.A. Hoffmann
Choreography: Christian Spuck
Stage design: Rufus Didwiszus
Costumes: Buki Shiff
Light-Design: Martin Gebhardt
Chorus master: Ernst Raffelsberger
Dramaturgy: Michael Küster, Claus Spahn
Ballet: Ballett Zürich, Junior Ballett
Anyone who thinks of Piotr Tchaikovsky’s ballet music for The Nutcracker will immediately hear the magical sound of the celesta that accompanies the famous dance of the sugar plum fairy, and will see before their mind’s eye the splendour of a room decorated for Christmas, dancing snowflakes and the momentum of the waltz of the flowers. Tchaikovsky’s music is imaginative, vivid and incisive, and has made the Nutcracker one of the most popular works of the ballet repertoire. Behind the catchy melodies is the story of the girl Marie, who – under the spell of Christmas present-giving – works herself up into an eerie, feverish dream during which toy figures and sweetmeats come to life and become involved in a battle with dangerous mice, at the end of which the victorious wooden nutcracker emerges as Marie’s Prince Charming. The plot of The Nutcracker is based on a fairy tale by E.T.A. Hoffmann, which lost much of its darkly romantic mystery in its adaptation as a ballet libretto. The second act of the ballet, for example, consists only of a divertissement that has almost no plot, featuring a colourful sequence of dances and stage effects. Hoffmann, by contrast, continues to develop the plot and tells a fairy tale within the fairy tale (which is omitted in the ballet) and to oscillate cleverly between imagination and reality. In his new production of this large-scale classic ballet, Christian Spuck is more interested in the fantastical nature of the original story than in the delightful Christmas fairy tale. He combines Tchaikovsky’s music with the demonic, humour, the bizarre and the diverse range of figures that inhabit Hoffmann’s story.
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without The Bolshoi Ballet's The Nutcracker. Come and enjoy Mary and Franz's wonderful adventures as they meet a magician with strange secrets, join an army of valiant toy soldiers to fight a villainous Mouse King and take a trip to a land where everything is made of sweets. This really is an evening of magic: classical ballet at its most visually entrancing, with something to appeal to everyone, young and old.
Tchaikovsky's sparkling, effervescent score contains a wealth of famous melodies, and the production is a visual delight from start to finish. Come and experience some special magic this Christmas and into the New Year.
Guests are gathering for a Christmas party at the Stahlbaum home. Among them are Drosselmeyer, godfather to Marie and Fritz, the Stahlbaums’ children. He has brought them a wonderful present: a funny Nutcracker.
The children wait with impatience for when at long last they will be shown the Christmas tree and the presents. The long awaited moment comes: the handsomely adorned Christmas tree is presented to the assembled company.
Drosselmeyer suddenly appears disguised as a magician: he is not recognized by the children. Their unknown guest’s ability to make their toys come alive delights the children but, as everything that is clad in mystery, it involuntarily arouses their fear. In order to calm them down, Drosselmeyer takes off his mask and the children now recognize their beloved godfather. Marie wants to play with the wonderful dolls which have come alive, but they have already been tidied away. To comfort Marie, Drosselmeyer gives her the Nutcracker-Doll. Marie takes a great liking to this awkward, funny creature.
Marie’s brother Fritz, who is a great tease and very naughty, accidentally breaks the doll. With great tenderness, Marie comforts her injured Nutcracker and rocks it backwards and forwards. Fritz and his friends now put on mouse masks and tease poor Marie.
The guests appear from an adjoining room. After the final, ceremonial Grossvater dance, they all leave.
At night the room where the Christmas tree stands is bathed in moonlight. It looks mysterious and full of magical secrets. Overcoming her fears, Marie has come to the room to visit her ‘sick’ Nutcracker-Doll. She kisses the doll and rocks it.
Drosselmeyer now appears. But instead of her kind godfather, he has turned into a wizard. At a wave of his hand everything around them is transformed: the walls of the room slide back, the Christmas tree starts to grow. And all the toys come alive and grow together with the tree.
Suddenly, mice creep out from under the floorboards, led by the Mouse King. The dolls are panic-stricken and thrown into confusion. The Nutcracker’s quick wits and bravery save the day: lining up the lead soldiers, he boldly leads them out to do battle with the mice forces.
However, the forces are unequal, the advantage is on the side of the evil mice. The Nutcracker is left alone to face the Mouse King and his suite. Marie is out of her mind with worry over the danger that threatens her doll. At this very moment, Drosselmeyer hands her a lighted candle and she throws it at the mice who scurry away helter-skelter.
The battle field empties. The only person left here is the Nutcracker who lies without moving on the floor. Marie, together with the dolls, hurries to his rescue. And now a miracle occurs...Before Marie stands a handsome youth, the Nutcracker-Prince. He walks forward to meet her.
The walls of the house disappear. Marie and her friends are standing under a star-studded sky, by a fairy-tale Christmas tree. Snowflakes go round in a magical dance. Marie and her Nutcracker-Prince, beckon, as if to a beautiful dream, to the twinkling star at the top of the Christmas tree. They climb into a magic boat and set off for the top of the tree. The dolls follow behind them.
Marie and Nutcracker-Prince are sailing in their magic boat through the Christmas tree kingdom. There are their friends, the dolls with them. The shining star is getting closer and closer. They are just about to reach the top of the tree when they are suddenly attacked by the mice and the Mouse King who have crept up behind them. Once again, the Nutcracker-Prince goes boldly into battle. Horribly frightened, Marie and the dolls watch the fight. The Nutcracker-Prince vanquishes the enemy. Joyous victory celebrations are underway. The dolls dance, the candles burn even brighter, the Christmas tree comes alive. The evil mice have been defeated. Marie and the Nutcracker-Prince are radiant with happiness — they have reached the kingdom of their dreams! But it appears all this was just a dream. Christmas Eve is over and with it all wonderful reveries. Marie, still in the thrall of the fabulous dream, is sitting at home by the Christmas tree, with the Nutcracker-Doll on her lap.
Peter Tchaikovsky "Nutcracker and the Mouse King" (ballet in 2 acts)
on the playbill