The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchiakovsky. The libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King". It was given its premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg in December 1892, on a double-bill with Tchaikovsky's opera, Iolanta.
The Nutcracker is about a young girl, usually called Clara or Masha, who is given a nutcracker doll for Christmas. She falls asleep and dreams that she saves the doll's life in a battle with the Mouse King. The nutcracker is then transformed into a handsome prince who whisks her away to the Kingdom of Sweets, where the Sugar Plum Fairy stages a grand divertissement with them being as honored guests.
Although that was the original story, the ballet has been open to much reinterpretation by modern choreographers who have sought greater psychological depths and sexual truth in the tale of Clara's coming of age. The Nutcracker has enjoyed enormous popularity since the mid-20th century and is now performed by countless ballet companies, primarily during the Christmas season, especially in the US.
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