When to see it
These events are part of the Autumn 2015 season.
Clara, a young girl, creeps downstairs on Christmas Eve to play with her favourite present – a Nutcracker. But a mysterious magician, Drosselmeyer, is waiting to sweep her off on a magical adventure.
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Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker score was commissioned by the director of the Russian Imperial Theatres, following the resounding success of The Sleeping Beauty in 1890. Marius Petipa created the scenario, which is based on a fairytale by E.T.A. Hoffmann, and Lev Ivanov provided the choreography. The Nutcracker was first performed in 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. It initially had a poor reception, but its combination of enchanting choreography and unforgettable music has since made it one of the best-loved of all ballets.
In Peter Wright’s classic production, the stage sparkles with theatrical magic – a Christmas tree grows before our eyes, toy soldiers come to life to fight the villainous Mouse King and Clara is taken to the Kingdom of Sweets on a golden sleigh. Tchaikovsky’s score contains some of the best-known melodies in ballet, from the flurrying sounds of the Waltz of the Snowflakes to the dream-like Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Julia Trevelyan Oman’s designs draw upon 19th-century images of Christmas, making this a magical production for the festive season.
News and features
2 October 2015
Five hours of rehearsals, interviews and behind the scenes insights from The Royal Ballet.
21 August 2015
Replacements confirmed for previously scheduled performances by Rupert Pennefather.
5 May 2015
Principal casting for performances from September 2015-January 2016 has been announced.
30 April 2015
From Tetris and Mario Bros. to Call of Duty and Bioshock, videogames have long used classical music to soundtrack on-screen adventures.
15 April 2015
Live Cinema Season 2015/16 includes 6 Royal Opera and 6 Royal Ballet productions screened live in cinemas across the world.
15 April 2015
Details of The Royal Ballet’s 2015/16 Season have been announced.
The Nutcracker (Russian: Щелкунчик, Балет-феерия / Shchelkunchik, Balet-feyeriya; French: Casse-Noisette, ballet-féerie) is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (op. 71). The libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann's story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. It was given its première at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on Sunday, December 18, 1892, on a double-bill with Tchaikovsky's opera, Iolanta. Although the original production was not a success, the 20-minute suite that Tchaikovsky extracted from the ballet was. However, the complete Nutcracker has enjoyed enormous popularity since the late 1960s and is now performed by countless ballet companies, primarily during the Christmas season, especially in the U.S. Major American ballet companies generate around 40 percent of their annual ticket revenues from performances of The Nutcracker. Tchaikovsky's score has become one of his most famous compositions, in particular the pieces featured in the suite. Among other things, the score is noted for its use of the celesta, an instrument that the composer had already employed in his much lesser known symphonic ballad The Voyevoda.