The Nutcracker, P. I. Tchaikovsky

An afternoon or evening spent enjoying The Salzburg Marionette Theatre’s recreation of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker is the perfect way to introduce children to the joys of ballet and classical music. With its fairytale characters, dances and melodies that immediately imprint themselves on the memory, The Nutcracker has been capturing young hearts and minds all over the world for generations.

The work hinges on a magical transformation. Clara’s favourite Christmas present, a nutcracker in the shape of a toy soldier, comes alive to lead a gingerbread army against the minions of the Mouse King. The battle over, the nutcracker turns into a prince and takes Clara to the Land of Sweets where he tells its ruler, the Sugar Plum Fairy, how Clara helped him to defeat his enemy.

Choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, and adapted from an E.T.A. Hoffmann story, The Nutcracker was Tchaikovsky’s third and final ballet, first performed at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg on 18 December 1892 in a double bill featuring the premiere of the Russian master’s last opera, Iolanta. Surprisingly, given its popularity today, The Nutcracker was not an immediate success, but by the 1960s the ballet had become ubiquitous, particularly, given its setting, during the festive season.

The simplicity of The Nutcracker is exactly what makes it so appealing; an ideal choice for the Salzburg Marionette Theatre to bring to its stage. Seemingly drawn straight out of a child’s toy box, and without a complex plot to worry about, one is left to marvel at the ethereal qualities of Tchaikovsky’s music and the delightful dances that each group of puppets takes turns to perform.

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