The Nutcracker: Then and Now

The Nutcracker: Then and Now

Dec 3, 2015

The Nutcracker Soldier

The Nutcracker Soldier

            The Nutcracker is such an important part of the holiday season both as the lovable toy and the gorgeous ballet.  For Grosh and our clients The Nutcracker tends to keep us focusing more on the ballet.  However, it is interesting to think about what the toy’s meaning and history is and how it inspired the ballet.

            According to German tradition, nutcrackers were given as keepsakes to bring good luck to the family and protect the home.  The legend says that a nutcracker represents power and strength, guarding the family from danger.  A fierce protector, the nutcracker bares its teeth to the evil spirits and serves as the traditional messenger of luck and goodwill.  Since the 15th century, Nutcrackers have existed in the form of wooden carvings and have traditionally been formed into the shape of a soldier, knight, or king.

              The Nutcracker ballet was inspired by this formidable toy and the novel, “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice,” which was written sometime between 1776 and 1822 by E.T. Amadeus Hoffman.  The story became the basis for the original ballet by Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky’s.  Alexandre Dumas Père’s adapted the original story by E.T. Amadaeus Hoffmann, which was set to music by Tchaikovsky and choreographed by Marius Petipa. This production was commissioned by the director of Moscow’s Imperial Theatre, Ivan Vsevolozhsky in 1891 and premiered a week before Christmas in 1892.

Night Snow ES2329

Night Snow ES2329

            The story centers on a young girl, Marie, and a Nutcracker that is given to her by her godfather on Christmas Eve.   Marie who has become very attached to her new toy falls asleep next to the Christmas tree with the Nutcracker in her arms.  When the clock strikes twelve magic sweeps over the house bringing toys, mice, and her Nutcracker to life.  All at once a battle ensues between the toys, the mice, and the mouse king.  Marie’s Nutcracker rushes to her side to battle the mouse king for her protection and honor.  Eventually, the mice and their king are defeated and the Nutcracker is transformed into a handsome prince.  He sweeps Marie off her feet away to the magical lands of snow and sweets where they meet the Sugar Plum Fairy.  Marie has had her eyes opened by this magical adventure and never wants to wake up. The Sugar Plum Fairy informs her that there is magic everywhere, you just have to look.

Kingdom of the Sweets S1782

Kingdom of the Sweets S1782

          At Grosh we mark our calendars in anticipation of, what we lovingly call, “Nutcracker Season”.  The backdrops that are painted for the Nutcracker, such as the Land of the Sweets, Kingdom of the Sweets, and the Night Snow Landscape, are some of the most beautiful in our inventory and set the stage for this magical story.  It’s wonderful to be a part of contributing to this holiday tale that has become a tradition shared throughout the world.  ‘The Nutcracker is the ballet that keeps on giving.” –David H. Koch

Source: http://www.magicofnutcrackers.com/Nutcrackers/HistoryofNutcrackers.htm.

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