Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of The Nutcracker. It was last on stage 4 December 2013—16 January 2014 as part of the Autumn 2013/14 season.
Clara, a young girl, creeps downstairs on Christmas Eve to retrieve her favourite present. But a mysterious magician, Drosselmeyer, is waiting to sweep her off on a magical adventure.
Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker score was commissioned by the director of the Russian Imperial Theatres, following the resounding success of Sleeping Beauty in 1890. Marius Petipa created the scenario – based on a fairytale by E. T. A. Hoffman – 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 an unforgettable score have 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 whisked to the Land 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 and the vigorous Russian Dance. Julia Trevelyan Oman's designs draw upon 19th-century images of Christmas, making this a classic production for the festive season.
News and features
15 December 2014
Watch the classic Christmas production with ballet fans around the world.
25 November 2014
Much more than just a bit of local colour, national dances were key to the development of ballet throughout the 19th century.
21 February 2014
A look at the balletic trope of breaking narrative for dance showpieces.
13 December 2013
Another chance to see the backstage film screened as part of our live cinema relay.
5 December 2013
What did you think of The Royal Ballet's Christmas ballet?
29 November 2013
A quick guide to the classic Christmas favourite.
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 twenty-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.