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Moscow Ballet Great Russian Nutcracker

Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker Act I - A Christmas Party

Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker costumes by Arthur Oliver
Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker costumes by Arthur Oliver

Tchaikovsky’s acclaimed score for this classic Christmas story opens with a “Miniature Overture” during which magical Uncle Drosselmeyer prepares his life-sized Christmas gifts for niece Masha and nephew Fritz at Mayor Stahlbaum’s family home in Moscow later that evening. The music sets the fanciful holiday mood by using upper registers of the orchestra exclusively as the curtain soon opens to reveal the iconic Moscow city skyline and distinguished guests arrive for the Christmas Eve Party. Masha, little brother Fritz, and mother and father Stahlbaum celebrate the holiday with friends and family, when beloved godfather Uncle Drosselmeyer arrives with his magical gifts.

Uncle Drosselmeyer presides over a puppet show, foreshadowing the events of the Nutcracker ballet, and then produces a large bag of Christmas gifts for all the children. All are very happy, except Masha, who has yet to be presented with a gift. Uncle Drosselmeyer summons super-sized Matrushka Doll which unveils the wild Moor Dolls for all to enjoy in wonderment.  He then introduces the life-sized Kissy Doll and Harlequin. The festivities continue with the adults dancing stately Russian Court dances. Masha approaches Uncle Drosselmeyer asking for her Christmas gift and he presents a beautiful and life-sized toy Nutcracker. Masha is overjoyed, but brother Fritz is jealous, and breaks the Nutcracker Doll! The party soon ends, guests make their way home sleepily and Masha falls asleep.

While the family is sleeping, Uncle Drosselmeyer repairs the Nutcracker Doll and as the clock strikes midnight, Masha hears the sound of mice scurrying. Perhaps Masha is dreaming?  The Christmas tree suddenly begins to grow to enormous size, and the Nutcracker Doll comes to life. He rises to defend Masha against the Mouse King who leads a battle.

Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker Masha and Uncle Drosselmeyer
Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker Masha and Uncle Drosselmeyer

A conflict ensues, Mice versus Soldiers. When Masha helps the Nutcracker Doll by throwing her shoe at the Rat King, the Nutcracker seizes his opportunity to defeat him. The mice retreat, taking their wounded leader with them. The Nutcracker is then transformed into a handsome Nutcracker Prince! Masha and Nutcracker Prince travel to the Snow Forrest where traditional Russian folk figures, Ded Moroz (Father Christmas) and Snegurochka (Snow Maiden) welcome Masha and her Nutcracker Prince escorting them to the Land of Peace and Harmony.
    
Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker Act II - "Land of Peace and Harmony"

In Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker Masha and the Nutcracker Prince arrive in the “Land of Peace and Harmony” where all creatures, animal and human, live in accord with each other. Moscow Ballet’s exclusive “Dove of Peace” in which 2 dancers balance and leverage each other to form a soaring bird with a 20 foot wingspan.

Moscow Ballet's Dove of Peace featuring Sergey Chumakov & Elena Petrichenko
Moscow Ballet's Dove of Peace featuring Sergey Chumakov & Elena Petrichenko

In the Land of Peace and Harmony emissaries (who bear a distinct resemblance to Masha’s dolls!) appear from around the world to welcome and honor Masha and her Prince on this peaceful Christmas night. Spanish, Chinese, Arabian, Russian, and French couples demonstrate the great dances and spirit of their country’s heritages. The dancers are accompanied by 10 foot tall, playful puppets which are also symbolic of that country’s unique attributes. The Spaniard’s Bull represents the gift of daring, the Arabian Elephants bring the gift of wisdom, the Chinese Dragon brings the gift of playfulness, the Balalaika playing Russian Bear bestows strength on Masha and the French Unicorn imparts imagination.

Mosocw Ballet's famous Arabian Variation with Puppet
Mosocw Ballet's famous Arabian Variation with Puppet

The holiday Christmas celebration concludes with a lush Waltz of the Flowers featuring the full company. Masha and the Nutcracker Prince express their gratitude for the lovely evening by dancing a Grand Pas de Deux of their own….The night is over, Masha awakens to find herself back in her own bedroom with the beloved Nutcracker Doll by her side.

Moscow Ballet's Waltz of the Roses in the Great Russian Nutcracker
Moscow Ballet's Waltz of the Roses in the Great Russian Nutcracker

A Christmas Tradition in North America since 1993!

In 1993, Moscow Ballet toured the Great Russian Nutcracker to Washington DC, Baltimore, Syracuse, Orlando, Ft Lauderdale, New Haven, Reading and Charleston WV for the first time and 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 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. Since then the annual tour has increased to include about 100 performances on the tour to cities from San Juan to Calgary, and from New York to California, traveling with two simultaneously touring companies of forty dancers each. 

Great Russian Nutcracker Photos