Nutcracker and Mouse King
Ballet by Christian Spuck
after the eponymous fairy tale by E.T.A. Hoffmann
Music by Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky
Because of Tchaikovsky’s imaginative music, “The Nutcracker” is one of the most popular works of the ballet repertoire, instantly bringing to mind scenes of a splendidly decorated Christmas room, dancing snowflakes and the waltz of the flowers. The plot of “The Nutcracker” is based on a novella by E.T.A. Hoffmann, one of the most famous writers of German Romanticism. While Hoffmann’s masterful fairy tale virtuously jumps back and forth from a dream to reality, in its adaptation as a ballet libretto by Alexandre Dumas and Marius Petipa it lost much of its dark romantic fantasy.
Christian Spuck attempts to distance himself from the Dumas/Petipas version in his choreography and puts the literary origin at the heart of his ballet, emphasizing the fantastical nature of the original rather than the delightful Christmas fairytale and bringing back the fairy tale of the princess Pirlipat, who turns into a nut monster, as told by E.T.A. Hoffmann. In Rufus Didwiszus’ stage setting, the workshop of the godfather Drosselmeier turns into an old revue-theater, where the characters of the ballet come to life. Spucks’ choreography plays with the richness of characters in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s narrative cosmos, the absurdity and overwrought humor that inhabit them while at the same time looking down into the dark abyss of Romanticism.
Recorded at the Opernhaus Zürich, April 2018
A production of Accentus Music in co-production with NHK, in co-operation with 3sat and Opernhaus Zürich.
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