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18 days to go

On 18 December 1892, in a double bill with an opera called Iolanta, the ballet The Nutcracker received its first performance in St Petersburg at the Mariinsky Theatre. Although the opera that accompanied it is little heard today, the ballet has gone on to become one of the most famous ballets ever created and one of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s most loved scores.

As with Romeo and Juliet nearly half a century later, choreographers and dancers initially had some trouble with Tchaikovsky’s ballet music. Until composers such as Léo Delibes (who wrote the music for Coppélia), and Tchaikovsky, ballet music had been very functional, and written to follow certain rules. Tchaikovsky wanted to stick to his artistic principles, and although he made some concessions to the choreographer, often refused to allow his music to be ‘tampered with’. It was common practice at the time for choreographers to ask (or demand) that pieces of music in a ballet were changed around, recomposed, shortened, lengthened or cut out completely!

The Nutcracker is the most popular ballet that BRB performs. Alongside David Bintley’s Beauty and the Beast, it has become something of a Christmas tradition. Here are some interesting facts about the Sir Peter Wright’s version of The Nutcracker that BRB performs.

• It takes approximately three days to install and setup all the scenery and lighting needed for the show.

• The props and scenery fill five articulated lorries.

• The magical bird that Clara rides to the land of sweets has flown 11 and a half miles during the 16 years that BRB has been performingThe Nutcracker.

• Around 50 people are required behind the scenes to make The Nutcracker run smoothly, particularly during the incredible transformation scene, where the fireplace changes to fill half the stage and the Christmas tree grows from 12 feet to 50 feet in height.

• 160lbs of special flame-retardant artificial snow is imported from a company in New York for the end of the first act.

• The production involves over 200 costumes.

• 20 children appear in the ballet, two teams of eight children and two boys who play the part of Clara’s brother Fritz, plus two extra covers.

Click on the thumbnails below to see some photos of The Nutcracker.



Click on the thumbnails below to see some photos of Beauty and the Beast.





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