2 3 Christmas Eve and the First Nutcracker | Ballet Webb

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve and the First Nutcracker

Christmas Eve and the First Nutcracker

Today is that magical day – Christmas Eve. I know everyone remembers the excitement we all felt (and perhaps still feel) as we anticipated the arrival of Santa, and repeatedly checked the chimney to make sure his route was clear.

The beloved Christmas ballet, The Nutcracker, is a big part of the holiday season. It is based on a tale written by E.T.A Hoffman in 1816. This is a much darker story than most of today’s versions of the ballet, and it is interesting to read and compare it to the current ballet’s story.

 The music was composed by Tchaikovsky and was presented to audiences before the ballet premiered.  The score was a success, and the audience loved it. But Tchaikovsky always said it wasn't his favorite.  He preferred his score for The Sleeping Beauty. For The Nutcracker ballet he used a newly invented instrument, the celesta, for the variation of the Sugar Plum Fairy. He even arranged to have a celesta secretly sent to Russia because he was “afraid Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov may get hold of it and use the unusual effect before me.”

The original choreographer was Marius Petipa, but he fell ill and his assistant, Lev Ivanov took over. Ivanov is still credited with most of the choreography today.

The ballet was first performed in 1892 at the Maryinsky Theatre in Russia, but it was not successful and received poor reviews. Tchaikovsky died less than a year later and never knew how successful The Nutcracker eventually became.

Have a wonderful Christmas Eve!

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:

Secret #21d:  
The score for The Nutcracker was not Tchaikovsky’s favorite work, and the first performance of the ballet was not a success.

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Quote of the Day:
“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”
- Norman Vincent Peale

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