A two-act ballet-féerie with an epilogue
The ballet was written in 1892. This version was performed in Perm in 2017.
Libretto by Alexey Miroshnichenko adapted from E. T. A. Hoffmann's ‘Nussknacker und Mausekönig’ (The Nutcracker and the Mouse King)
On the threshold of a new year of 2018 the theatre released premiere — The Nutcracker ballet by Pyotr Tchaikovsky in Alexey Miroshnichenko's author's version. In this version the action takes place in St. Petersburg in 1892 when the very first production of The Nutcracker was premiered in The Mariinsky Theatre.
Sponsor — Alexey Miroshnichenko Perm Ballet Support Foundation
The production is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation
Herr Drosselmeyer, a councilman
Herr Stahlbaum, a doctor
Frau Stahlbaum, his wife
Marie, Louise, Fritz, their children
The Nutcracker, The Prince
The Mouse King
Residents of Blumenburg: Spanish Couple, Arabian Couple, Chinese Couple, Russian Couple, French Couple, Italian Couple
Flowers: the Rose, the Lily, the Peony, the Lotus
Policeman, Chimney Sweep, Bourgeois Family, Drunk Workers, Students, Priest, Raree-show Man, Street Kids, Grocers, Guests, Nanny, Housemaid, Cooks, Princess with a Pug, Footman, Governess, Mice, Soldiers, Horsemen, Bear Cubs, Snowflakes, Flowers, Angels, Pages
The action takes place in St. Petersburg in 1892.
1892. In St. Petersburg Christmas preparations are underway. A festive atmosphere permeates the streets. Within this yuletide paradise, curious urchins have gathered, a nobleman keeps order, grocers furnish the frozen city dwellers with tea, cakes and sweets. Hurriedly following on behind the numerous guests who have descended on the Stahlbaum’s house is councilman Drosselmeyer. He has prepared a special gift for his goddaughter Marie.
The Stahlbaums are receiving guests into their home. Preparations for the celebration are complete. Following a signal from the host, the overhead light is extinguished, and the Christmas tree lit up by multicoloured lights. Everyone gasps in amazement.
But wait, what’s this?
Marie makes out a young officer, who appears to emerge from an old painting hanging on the wall, and asks for her help. Curiously, apart from Marie, no one notices him.
Yet already in the dining room the lights are back on again and children receive their long-awaited presents. Merry dancing begins.
Councilman Drosselmeyer enters. Children rush over to him, since he always thinks up something exciting and unusual! Today the godfather has brought costumes and masks, so that the adults can act out the home performance about Princess Pirlipat. Louise — Marie’s sister is to be the princess, and her parents — King and Queen. Grandfather is given Mousilda’s costume while Drosselmeyer’s nephew gets to be the kitchen boy.
Drosselmeyer begins his story…
Having not been given anything to eat, the frozen Mousilda to the Mouse King and she bites the sleeping Pirlipat. The princess becomes so ugly that even the King and Queen are on the verge of fainting at the sight of her. The King summons Drosselmeyer and orders him to save the princess. But it’s her brother — the councilman’s nephew who comes to her rescue. He gives Pirlipat the magic nut Krakatuk, and her beauty is restored. The mouse is angry beyond all measure. Wanting to get revenge, Mousilda commands her son to attack the courageous boy. All it takes is one bite and Drosselmeyer’s nephew is transformed into a hideous-looking monster, with an enormous mouth. So, what does Pirlipat do? Instead of bestowing thanks upon her saviour — who has now taken on such an ugly appearance — she shuns him…
”Poor hero!” Marie with tears in her eyes rushes up to him. “I would never have behaved to you how cruel Pirlipat has!” Drosselmeyer says that from now on his nephew is the Nutcracker, who will continue to crack nuts forever. Mousilda’s bitter revenge for the Krakatuk nut. “But surely there is a way to save him?” exclaims Marie. “There might be,” replies Drosselmeyer, “but only if a kind-hearted girl is to fall in love with the Nutcracker and help him fight the Mouse King”.
Meanwhile, Fritz, Marie’s brother, grabs the Nutcracker to see whether he can crack the biggest nut. The children pull the toy back and forth toward one another and break it. Marie cries, but her godfather fixes the Nutcracker and gives it back to her. Happy, she clutches her beloved, while Fritz and the other boys turn their attention to the to the toy soldiers, making noise all about the house.
Having seen that everything has fallen back into place, Stahlbaum invites guests to dance the charming old Grossvater Tanz, which quickly breaks into a cheerful gallop.
A nanny takes Marie to bed. But she is still so enraptured by the events of the party — particularly the story about Princess Pirlipat. Finally, the nanny manages to calm her, and Marie falls asleep.
The room takes on a magical glow. In her dream, Marie sees how the kitchen boy from the performance earlier at the party stole the sweets and got caught in the act. Her older sister Louise dressed as Pirlipat beseeches the King and Queen to release the boy, but they do not bow to her request. Meanwhile, further events unfold: the Mouse King appears and menacingly looms over Marie. She opens her eyes in horror.
The clock strikes midnight. Drosselmeyer enters the bedroom. He looks a little odd, and doesn’t see Marie, while he peers closely at his watch dial, expectantly, as if waiting for something.
With a wave of the councilman’s hand the walls in Marie’s bedroom rise up off the ground, and she finds herself in the dining room. The room expands, the tree grows, the buffet turns into a fortress, and the fireplace becomes enormous. And who can be found under the table but the Mouse King — along with his entire mouse army!
Drosselmeyer and Marie hide behind the armchair on which the Nutcracker is sleeping. The duty officer at the fortress raises the alarm. A gun shot is fired, waking up the Nutcracker. He bravely leads the soldiers in battle against the mouse troops. But the mice are dropping like flies, and the Nutcracker must take on their leader singlehandedly.
Wanting to help the Nutcracker, Marie throws her slipper at the Mouse King. This proves a handy diversion — the Nutcracker then deals him a hefty blow. The injured Mouse King wails as he pushes the Nutcracker who then collapses with exhaustion. The mice are running away
Marie is beside herself. She doesn’t know whether her darling Nutcracker is still alive. But Drosselmeyer at that moment appears alongside her. He tells Marie to go up to the hero. He is barely recognizable — is it really the Nutcracker? — and then something wonderful happens: he turns into a handsome prince. The prince bows to Marie’s feet and declares his love for her.
It would seem like a fairy-tale ending, but there’s still more to come. On their journey, Marie and the Prince are confronted by a magical, winter forest. Spikey snowflakes try to freeze all their feeling and put them to sleep forever. But the Marie’s self-assured nature, the Prince’s courage and their faith in happiness calls on the help of the angels. Their sublime song of the angels succeeds in repelling the frenzied whirlwind of snowflakes. From the depths of the forest white bears emerge and they take Marie and the Prince to Blumenburg — a fantastical city, where lovers inhabit the blossom-filled gardens and dreams come true.
Marie and the Prince continue on their wanderings. The angels fly on ahead to protect them from any hurdles along the way. In Blumenburg, lovers from all over the world are on hand to welcome the guests. The royal page boys show the new arrivals the way.
The King and Queen of Blumenburg are preparing to receive their guests. Fairies gather flowers of every kind in the garden. From the crowd of gathered townsfolk, Marie and the Prince emerge. The Prince talks of his ordeal in the guise of the Nutcracker and lets it be known to all that it was Marie who saved him.
The party begins. Spanish, Arabian, Chinese, Russian, French and Italian dancers parade before the guests. The Prince and Marie are enthralled by their dancing. The King and Queen present the protagonists with a fragrant bouquet of lotus flower, peonies, roses and lilies which are also surrounding them in a wonderous dance. Marie and the Prince are happy beyond measure; they experience feelings of extreme warmth and tenderness. The Prince asks Marie if she will remain in this land of love with him forever. Marie hesitates for a second to grant him his wish — and the spell is broken: the magical town fades away and the lovers turn back into a pair of puppets. “Wait!” exclaims Marie; she’s ready, she agrees. She asks the Prince to forgive her fleeting reservations — but he’s already turned back into the Nutcracker. “Oh, what have I done!” Marie cries. Everything has disappeared. She runs forward, trying in vain to glimpse a hint of anything in the distance. Out of nowhere Drosselmeyer appears. Marie tries to run towards him, but she is overcome with weakness and stripped of all feeling.
Third and Fourth Scenes
An alarming noise wakes Marie. She opens her eyes and realises that she is at home, in her bed. Fritz with his brand-new trumpet, given to him yesterday, has come crashing in, in order to wake his sister. Mrs Stahlbaum enters behind him along with the nanny. They are relieved to find Marie still in her bed. Yet Marie doesn’t feel herself.
She searches high and low for the Nutcracker, and unable to find him anywhere, goes rushing out onto the street. She must find Drosselmeyer. Only he will believe her secret about the Nutcracker — he is the only one she can talk to about her dream.
Christmas night has passed, the festive mood continues to prevail on the streets of Saint Petersburg. Marie runs to the square in which the city carnival is taking place. Strangely, everything seems to resemble her dream! The merry street entertainers looked like the lovers from around the world. “And the King and the Queen from Blumenburg looked very familiar… Ah, of, course — they looked like my parents!” realises Marie.
And there’s Drosselmeyer, except he’s not alone, but with a young boy. Marie joyfully runs toward her godfather and begins to recount her amazing dream. “Allow me if you will, the councilman says with a smile, to introduce my nephew.”
The young boy greets Marie and upon seeing him, she notices he bears an uncanny resemblance to the Nutcracker Prince. The young boy also senses he’s seen Marie somewhere before. Their recognizing one another turns from amazement into joy. “Something tells me,” councilman Drosselmeyer mutters under his breath as he looks at them both, “is that Marie will almost certainly never repeat the mistake made by Princess Pirlipat.”