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Performing Arts

The Nutcracker
If you are coming to Moscow during the Christmas and New Years holidays, we are sure that you will want to see a performance of The Nutcracker.

Nikolai Tsiskaridze,
Prince, The Nutcracker.
Photo by Damir Yusupov,
Bolshoi Theatre.

The Nutcracker ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is the most popular ballet performed at Christmas time all over the world, and its devoted admirers include children and adults alike. The original story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King was written by E.T.A. Hoffman in 1816; however, it is a revision of the story by Alexander Dumas from 1844 that was used for the ballet.

Tchaikovsky composed The Nutcracker in 1891-1892. He considered it to be one of his less successful pieces and was rather unsatisfied with it generally. The first performance of the ballet took place 114 years ago, on December 6, 1892, at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg.

One novelty in Tchaikovsky's original score was the use of the celesta, a new instrument the composer had discovered in Paris. He was much taken with this instrument, with its heavenly sweet sound, and he wrote music for it, for the character of the Sugar-Plum Fairy. The celesta appears not only in her solo, but also in other passages in Act II. Tchaikovsky was so taken with his discovery, that he was determined to keep it a secret until the premiere. When he was asked to write a suite of the music from the ballet, he made sure that this performance took place as close as possible to the first performance of the actual ballet, so that nobody would steal his applause.

The ballet has undergone any number of revisions since it was first staged; at the Mariinsky Theatre, for example, we know that the original ballet lasted only some ninety minutes.Today, a performance runs to two hours forty-five minutes.

We asked our favourite dancers at the Bolshoi what do they think of The Nutcracker?

Yelena Andriyenko (who will dance the role of Marie) told us: The Nutcracker is very close to my own character. Im a very open and cheerful person, and the ballet is likewise very light. It talks about a dream, even if the dream might be beyond attainment. I can truly call it my ballet.

It appeals to Russian people because they have this readiness to believe in something better. Life is not always an easy thing, and it is the holiday time when you most want to watch this performance and believe in the fairy tale. You cant always dance every step perfectly, but the music is always perfect! Christmas isnt Christmas without The Nutcracker.

Nikolai Tsiskaridze (who will dance the role of the Prince) confessed that he likes practically everything about this ballet: It is the best music, the best fairy tale, the best dream. While watching it, every child wants to grow up and every grown-up wants to become a child again.

As for other countries, in some of them every theatre club or society tries to stage their own Nutcracker. What is more, some dancers earn their living mainly due to this ballet: they perform during the holiday season and afterwards take a break for the rest of the year. I believe the only difference in perception of The Nutcracker by the Russians and by foreigners is that for the former it is associated with New Years and for the latter with Christmas.

Yelena Andriyenko , Marie,
The Nutcracker.
Photo by Damir Yusupov, Bolshoi Theatre.

The Bolshoi

December 10      19:00
December 16      12:00 and 19:00
December 17      19:00
December 31      12:00 and 19:00

State Kremlin Palace

Kremlin Ballet Theater

December 17      12:00

Sats Childrens Musical Theater

December 5      15:00

Moscow Puppet Theater

December 24      14:00

Moscow International Performing Arts Centre

Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre soloists Fantasy on the theme of The Nutcracker

December 27      18:00
December 28      13:00 and 18:00
December 29      13:00
December 30      13:00 and 18:00
December 31      13:00 and 18:00

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