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Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Nutcracker Suite

I thought some of you might like to know a little of the history of the Nutcracker Suite. I’ve copied the information below from this site. Metallic_Nutcracker_14091GL

Once at the site, you can read more about the history of the Nutcracker itself. There have over the years been many variations of Nutcrackers, made to apply to modern day but for the original and truest form of the Nutcracker, you have to refer back to the 16th and 17th century (as per the site above).
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This famous play began life in 1816 written by the German writer E.T.A. Hoffman. The play was entitled “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and it was a tale of an unhappy girl named Marie whose only love is a nutcracker doll.

The play was adapted in 1845 by famed French novelist Alexandre Dumas, who made the play more suitable for children. In 1891 the cheerier version of the ballet was chosen as the basis of a Russian ballet to be scored by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and choreographed by Marius Petitpa and Lev Ivanov.

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The ballet opened in St. Petersburg on December 17, 1892. The ballet is the tale of a girl named Clara who is given a nutcracker doll for Christmas by her godfather, Drosselmaier. That night she falls asleep and is disturbed by an attack of mice led by the Mouse King, who wishes to take her away to his kingdom. She is rescued by soldiers of the Nutcracker who, as a prince, takes her to his land, a country full of sugarplums and waltzing flowers. She awakens the next morning with only the doll and memories of her Christmas adventure.

The original production was not an overwhelming success. Though popular in Russia it was never staged outside of that country until 1934, when it appeared in London. Since then numerous versions have been created, with the most successful being that by George Balanchine performed in 1954. The ballet is probably the world’s favorite ballet, being seen by millions each year, especially during the Christmas season.

Here is a the Royal Opera House production, in full, on YouTube. It will run for almost two hours, so you may want to bookmark it and come back if you can’t view it all at once. nutcracker1

One curious consequence of the ballets popularity has been to stimulate interest in the collection of history nutcrackers. Though many types of metal and wooden characters were made through the centuries, the commercial production of the popular toy dates only from the 1870s in Germany.

If you feel inclined to make a Nutcracker doll, there are some patterns to check out. There are others I’m sure, but these are the first ones that come to mind. Nutcrackers,  you either find them creepy (I’ve been told) or like me, you love them. I grew up with them coming from a European background. They were just part of my childhood.

This one by Michelle Munzone

There is also this one by Victoria DiPietro

and Becky Hollaway has them also in various forms from stockings, to a wall version to another that is life size. It’s all in what you are looking for. You will have to scroll through the listings on Cloth Doll Patterns to find the different versions.

While you’re on Becky’s pages, you can find all the characters for the Nutcracker Suite as well. The Mouse King, Marie, Her Drosselmeier, The Sugar Plum Faery and the Nutcracker Prince. My wish is to make these for my own Christmas display starting next year. I’m keeping positive.. ;o))

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