In 1993, Moscow Ballet toured the Great Russian Nutcracker for the first time across North America to critical acclaim. Directed and choreographed by Stanislav Vlasov, former soloist with the Bolshoi Ballet and well known as a “Grand Dance Artist,” the inaugural six-week tour traveled to major cities across the U.S. and starred principal ballerina Lillia Sabitova. It also featured the innovative rolling backgrounds, first created by a St Petersburg Conservatory of Music producer, and which were the inspiration for Eisenstein’s cinematic technique. 2012 celebrates the 20th anniversary of Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker!
Synopsis of Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker Act I - A Christmas Party
Tchaikovsky’s classic score for this Christmas story opens with a “Miniature Overture.”
The music sets the fanciful holiday mood by using upper registers of the orchestra exclusively as the curtain opens to reveal the iconic Moscow Skyline and guests arriving for a Christmas Eve Party. Masha, her little brother Fritz, and mother and father Staulbaum are celebrating the holiday with friends and family from around the world, when the mysterious godfather, Uncle Drosselmeyer, enters with his magical gifts.
Drosselmeyer produces a large bag of Christmas gifts for all the children. He then presides over a puppet show which foreshadows the events of the Christtmas story ballet itself. All are very happy, except for Masha, who has yet to be presented a gift. Uncle Drosselmeyer then produces the life-size dolls, Kissy Doll, Harlequinn and the Moorish Dolls as presents for all to enjoy in wonderment. When the dances are finished, Masha approaches Uncle Drosselmeyer asking for her Christmas gift. He gives her a beautiful toy Nutcracker, in the traditional shape of a soldier. Masha is overjoyed, but her brother Fritz is jealous, and breaks the Nutcracker. The guests enjoy Christmas dancing until the party ends and Masha goes to bed.
While everyone is sleeping, Uncle Drosselmeyer repairs the Nutcracker. When the clock strikes midnight, Masha hears the sound of mice in her bedroom. She wakes up and tries to run away, but the mice stop her. Perhaps Masha is still in a dream? The Christmas tree suddenly begins to grow to enormous size, filling the room and the Nutcracker comes to life. He rises to defend Masha and the Mouse King leads his mice into battle. Here Tchaikovsky continues the miniature effect of the Overture, setting the battle music again predominantly in the orchestra’s upper registers.
A conflict ensues, and when Masha helps the Nutcracker by holding the Mouse King by the tail or throwing her shoe at him, the Nutcracker seizes his opportunity and defeats him. The mice retreat, taking their wounded leader with them. The Nutcracker is then transformed into a prince. Masha and her magic Nutcracker Prince travel to the Snow Forrest where traditional Russian figures, Ded Moroz, Father Christmas, and Snegurochka, the Snow Maiden, welcome Masha and her Nutcracker Prince into their world of peace and harmony. The score conveys the wondrous effect of the journey by introducing a wordless children’s chorus.
Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker Synopsis Act II - A Christmas Celebration in the "Land of Peace and Harmony"
In Konstantin Ivanov’s original sketch for the set of The Nutcracker, Act II (1892) Masha and her Nutcracker Prince arrive in the “Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy” with all its Christmas candy and treats – in Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker they arrive in the “Land of Peace and Harmony” where all creatures live in accord with each other. Unique to the Great Russian Nutcracker, the peaceful ambiance is established by award-winning Russian designer Valentin Federov’s three-dimensional backdrop, an homage to Henri Rousseau’s jungle paintings. Emissaries from around the world appear to honor and dance for Masha and her Prince on this peaceful Christmas night. The Sugar Plum Fairy becomes the Dove of Peace and dances a welcome ballet for the young couple.
The Christmas celebration continues with dances from countries around the world; Spanish, Chinese, Arabian, Russians, and French – each demonstrating the great dances and spirit of their country’s heritage. The dancers are accompanied by towering and playful puppets which are also symbolic of their country’s unique attributes. One notices that the dancing characters are similar to the Christmas Eve party guests from a few hours earlier. Masha and the Nutcracker dance a Grand Pas de Deux of their own and the midnight Christmas celebration concludes with the lush Farewell Waltz of the Flowers.
Stanislav Vlasov original director and choreographer of
the Great Russian Nutcracker
The Harlequin of the Party Scene, dancing for guests. Fritz and Masha can be seen in the background. The Harlequin is a doll like the Nutcracker.
The Great Russian Nutcracker is taken captive by the Mice in front of the Stahlbaum's glorius Christmas tree. In Moscow Ballet's production of the Nutcracker, the tree grows to a height of over 60 feet!
Drosselmeyer gives Masha the Great Russian Nutcracker doll! In the background are the French and Spanish Variations.
The Nutcracker Prince and Masha perform the Nutcracker Adagio in the Snow Forest.
Act II Finale sequence of the Variations of the Great Russian Nutcracker