Nutcracker Ballet the Christmas Ballet
Today December 18, 2012 the “Nutcracker Ballet” is celebrating its 120th year since the original Nutcracker Ballet were first performed in St. Petersburg, Russia in the Mariinsky Theatre on Sunday, 18 December 1892. (Today December 18, 2012 exactly 120 years later).
The Two-act Nutcracker Ballet was originally choreographed by Lev Ivanov who was a Russian ballet dancer and choreographer and later, Second Ballet-master of the Imperial Ballet and Marius Petipa who was a French ballet dancer, teacher and choreographer. The score for the Nutcracker was a Russian composer whose works included symphonies, concertos, operas, ballets, chamber music, and a choral setting of The Russian Orthodox Divine Liturgy. Some of these are among the most popular concert and theatrical music in the classical repertoire. He was the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression internationally, which he bolstered with appearances as a guest conductor later in his career in Europe and the United States.
Surprisingly the original “Nutcracker Ballet” was not a success, However, the complete Nutcracker has enjoyed enormous popularity since the late 1960s and is now performed by countless ballet companies, primarily during the Christmas season, especially in the U.S.
In 1919, choreographer Alexander Gorsky staged a production which eliminated the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier and gave their dances to Clara and the Nutcracker Ballet Prince. It was the first “Nutcracker Ballet” production to cast adults instead of children.
The adult version of the Nutcracker ballet was first performed outside in Budapest instead of in Russia and was performed at the Royal Opera House in 1927, with choreography by Ede Brada. In 1934, choreographer Vasili Vainonen staged a performance which were a great success of the original ballet but using adult performers instead of children.
The Nutcracker Ballet is divided into two acts featuring interesting characters like the President, his wife, guest and children, there is also Angels, the Sugar Plum Fairy, Clara and the Nutcracker Ballet Prince to name a few of the characters in the play.
What is the Nutcracker Ballet About
The story varies from production to production, though most follow the basic outline. The names of the characters also vary. In the original Hoffmann story, the young heroine is called Marie Stahlbaum and Clara (Klärchen) is the name of her doll. In the adaptation by Dumas on which Petipa based his libretto, her name is Marie Silberhaus.
It is Christmas Eve and Family and friends have gathered in the parlor to decorate the beautiful Christmas tree in preparation for Christmas night’s festivities. Once the Christmas tree is finished, the younger children are called. The children stand in awe of the Christmas tree sparkling with candles and Christmas decorations.
After the Children have been called to come and view the Christmas Tree the Christmas eve festivities begins. The children receive presents and everyone seems happy and joyful. Then the clock strikes eight and a mysterious figure enters the room, it is the Herr Drosselmeyer he is one of the local councilman and godfather to Clara and Fritz. He are also a magician and a talented toymaker. Herr Drosselmeyer brings four dolls to the party who dance to the delight of all at the Christmas party.
Typical of children Clara and Fritz are sad to see the dolls being put away by their uncle for safekeeping, a wooden nutcracker carved in the shape of a little man, used for cracking hazelnuts. The other children ignore it, but Clara immediately takes a liking to it. Fritz, however, purposely breaks the toy. Clara is heartbroken.
During the night, after everyone else has gone to bed, Clara returns to the parlor to check on her beloved nutcracker. As she reaches the little bed, the clock strikes midnight and she looks up to see Drosselmeyer perched atop the clock in place of the owl. Suddenly, mice begin to fill the room and the Christmas tree begins to grow to dizzying heights. The Nutcracker also grows to life-size. Clara finds herself in the midst of a battle between an army of Gingerbread man soldiers and the mice, led by the Mouse King. The mice begin to eat the gingerbread soldiers.
The Nutcracker appears to lead the gingerbread soldiers, who are joined by tin soldiers and dolls who serve as doctors to carry away the wounded. As the Mouse King advances on the still-wounded Nutcracker, Clara throws her slipper at him, distracting him long enough for the Nutcracker to stab him.
For more information about the Nutcracker Ballet, you can read the Wikipedia article about the
, where you will find more information on the story and act two of the Nutcracker Ballet.
Google Doodle, The Nutcracker Ballet
As we start the build up towards Christmas 2012, I personally think that Google have made a good choice by picking the “Nutcracker Ballet” to be featured in their search engine on December 18, 2012. The nutcracker ballet is one of the ballets that gets mostly performed over the Christmas period and set builds towards the Christmas period, and what Christmas means for kids. In the Google Doodle there are several items that represents the “Nutcracker Ballet”.
These include the mouse king, Clara and Fritz the Nutcracker Ballet figurine a Christmas tree and several Christmas decorations!