The Nutcracker is an 1892 two-act ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky based on E. T. A. Hoffmann’s story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”.
On Christmas Eve, family and friends gather to decorate the beautiful Christmas tree in preparation for the party. Once the tree is finished the children are sent for. The party begins and the March of the Toy Soldiers is played. Presents are given out to the children, but Clara is the only one to be entranced by a wooden nutcracker carved in the shape of a little man. Fritz breaks it and Clara is heartbroken.
During the night, Clara returns to the parlour to check on her beloved nutcracker and that’s when the magic begins. A rather scary story perhaps, with the Nutcracker growing to full size and a battle between gingerbread soldiers and mice. Fortunately the nutcracker turns into a handsome prince who takes Clara to the beautiful Land of Sweets.
With its story it has naturally become a Christmas favourite, especially as it is full of well known tunes!
My thanks to Miriam Hurdle, whose blog gave me the idea to include The Nutcracker in my calendar. She shared two very different films of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and most of us preferred this Russian version.