December 18th 1892: The Nutcracker debuts
On this day in 1892, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker received its debut at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg. By this point, Tchaikovsky was a noted composer, and had already produced his masterpieces the ‘1812 Overture’, and the ballet Swan Lake, though the latter was not initially a critical success. The Nutcracker told the story of an enchanted Nutcracker doll, which leads its young friend into a magical world where they battle the evil Mouse King. The story was adapted by Tchaikovsky from Alexandre Dumas’ own adaptation of the E.T.A Hoffman story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The ballet was choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. Like Swan Lake, The Nutcracker was not an immediate success, but Tchaikovsky’s score was generally praised. Indeed, ‘Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy’ became one of his most famous compositions. Tchaikovsky died the year after the premiere of The Nutcracker, never seeing his ballet become the hugely popular Christmas classic it is today.