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The Nutcracker
Report to Moderator Old 06-08-2002 09:34 PM
MMC Editor
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By Brenna Hall

First performed in 1892, the Nutcracker began as a story that was written by a man named E.T.A Hoffman. But his story was never meant for kids. It was a very morbid story. Hoffman meant to show the degenerate and desperate side of mankind.

Another man named Alexander Dumas Pere rewrote the story into one that was a little more optimistic and it is from this version that the Nutcracker ballet evolved. Here is the story of the Nutcracker, in a nutshell:

Clara, a young girl receives a nutcracker from her magical and mysterious uncle named Drosselmeyer. When she falls asleep, she is suddenly awakened by a mouse king. Her nutcracker prince comes to life and has to fight the mouse king and rescue her. After a long and tiresome battle, the mouse king is defeated and the nutcracker prince takes Clara to the magical land of the dolls. Their journey takes them through the land of the Snow Queen, snowflakes and candyland. In candyland they meet sweets from around the world. They are met by the sugar plum fairy and the beautiful waltzing flowers. Clara doesn't want to go home, but on Christmas day, she wakes up, surrounded by her family.

Piotr Tchaikovsky wrote the music for the ballet because he was asked by Marius Petipa, the first ballet master to the Tsar of Russia. Piotr used many different and unusual instruments in the ballet including a celesta. He was very secretive when he had the celesta shipped in because he didn't want anybody to steal his idea before he could use it. The celesta has a bell-like sound and you can hear it in the dance of the sugar plum fairy.

It is interesting to note that the Nutcracker ballet, one of the most successful and well-known ballets of our time, received a terribly bad review when it was first performed. One of the reviews of the premier said, "For dancers there is rather little in it, for art absolutely nothing, and for the artistic fate of our ballet, one more step downward".

Although the Nutcracker is altered a little everywhere it is performed, it is still the same story and is still performed all over the world at Christmas time.
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