Anyone who thinks of Piotr Tchaikovsky's ballet music for The Nutcracker will immediately hear the magical sound of the celesta that accompanies the famous dance of the sugar plum fairy, and will think of a splendidly decorated Christmas room, dancing snowflakes and the waltz of the flowers. Because of Tchaikovsky's imaginative music, the Nutcracker is one of the most popular works of the ballet repertoire. Behind the catchy melodies is the story of the girl Marie, who – under the spell of Christmas present-giving – works herself up into an eerie, feverish dream during which toy figures and sweets come to life and a victorious wooden nutcracker emerges as Marie's Prince Charming in the end.
The plot of The Nutcracker is based on a novella by E.T.A. Hoffmann, one of the most famous writers of German Romanticism. Hoffmann's masterful fairytale virtuously jumps back and forth from a dream to reality and interlaces many narrative levels. In its adaptation as a ballet libretto by Alexandre Dumas and Marius Petipa, it lost much of its dark romantic fantasy. The second act of the ballet, for example, consists only of a divertissement that has almost no plot, featuring a colorful sequence of dances and stage effects.
The German choreographer Christian Spuck attempts to distance himself from the Dumas/Petipas version and puts the literary origin at the heart of his ballet. Christian Spuck is more interested in the fantastical nature of the original than in the delightful Christmas fairytale. Therefore, he brings back the fairytale of the princess Pirlipat, who turns into a nut monster, to the storyline as it was told as a back story to The Nutcracker in E.T.A.
In Rufus Didwiszus' stage setting, the workshop of the godfather Drosselmeier turns into an old revue-theater, where the characters of the ballet come to life. Spucks' choreography plays with the richness of characters in E.T.A. Hoffmann's narrative cosmos, the absurdity and overwrought humor that inhabit them. But he also looks down into the dark abyss of Romanticism.
New version of the scenario by Claus Spahn
Music by Pjotr Tschaikowski (1840-1893)