Introductory presentation with video screeningTchaikovsky's Nutcracker has for decades been an essential part of the Opera's run-up to Christmas. In memory of Vasili Vainonen and Gusztáv Oláh, we first presented for Christmas of 2015 a newly buffed-up show that follows classical ballet traditions while still conforming to the requirements of 21st century dance and set design. Partnering with Tamás Solymosi to choreograph a new fairy-tale ballet for the classical-music piece is a true Nutcracker specialist: the internationally renowned Wayne Eagling. This is the first time in the life of the Hungarian National Ballet that an artist of such worldwide stature has developed a choreography tailored specifically to its members, as well as taking inspiration from them.
Hungarian-language discussion programme
By the chapel, on the street
It is Christmas Eve, and as snow flurries fall the Stahlbaum family heads home from the chapel in order to receive the guests arriving for the Christmas celebration. The children − Marie, Louise, Fritz and the others − excitedly prepare for the great event. In front of the house there is an ice-skating rink and a vendor of roasted chestnuts. One after the other, the guests arrive to celebrate together with the family.
The Christmas party
The guests gather around the beautifully decorated Christmas tree, where a great number of presents are waiting for the children. Marie's Uncle Drosselmeier also arrives, accompanied by his nephew, and entertains the guests with a puppet show. The performance is about the battle between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Drosselmeier gives the nutcracker doll to Marie, who happily dances with her new favourite. Fritz thoughtlessly grabs the nutcracker doll from Marie, breaking it. Fortunately, Drosselmeier is able to fix the toy. The Christmas festivities close with everybody joining in a dance.
Full of happiness and joy, Marie falls sound asleep in the children's room, naturally with the nutcracker doll she has received beside her. The clock strikes midnight. As Marie dreams, everything seems to grow to an enormous size: the Christmas tree, the gifts, and the furniture. The puppet show comes to life. The Mouse King leads mice and rats in preparations to attack the house and Christmas tree. In her fright, Marie hopes that the Nutcracker (who is none other than the nephew) will come to her aid. At the head of an army of lead soldiers who have come to life, the Nutcracker defeats the Mouse King.
Journey to the Land of Snow
The room and the house transform into a forest winter wonderland. Marie – now Princess Marie – and the Nutcracker Prince delight in the Waltz of the Snowflakes together and then dance a lovely, lyrical duet to show their feelings for each other. Together with Drosselmeier, they then board a boat to travel to the Nutcracker Prince's magic realm.
The first scene of the second act depicts a fantastic journey, in which the young lovers find their path blocked by bats in a cave. The Nutcracker Prince, however, disperses them with a single blow.
The Snow Crystal Palace
The inhabitants of the fairy-tale realm adoringly welcome the prince and his bride, Marie, home to the prince's Snow Crystal Palace. A series of dance divertissements, in which the "residents" of the realm introduce themselves, ensues. A lively Spanish trio is followed by an Oriental snake-charming dance. Three Chinese dancers then entertain the guests with jumps and fast spins before the magnificent Russian dance is opened with a male solo.
In this version, the pas de trois is a brilliant variation for “rococo” ballerinas, which leads, as the greetings conclude, to the climax of these divertissements: the Waltz of the Flowers.
After the waltz comes the grand pas de deux between Princess Marie and the Nutcracker Prince, a duet constructed in keeping with classical tradition as an adagio, two variations and a coda testifying to the fulfilment of their love. In the finale, they are joined by the entire corps de ballet and the enchantingly lovely inhabitants of the Snow Crystal Palace. But as this marvellous and dizzying dream ends, we are returned to Marie’s room, where it is Christmas morning.
Racing out of the room, and out of the house, she herself is unable to say whether the Christmas magic was something she dreamed or actually experienced.