Story by Jonathan McPhee, freely adapted from a story by E.T.A. Hoffmann (E)
In 1891, the most famous musician in the world was the Russian composer, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. He had written operas, symphonies, concertos, and the ballets Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. Now in what would be the last year of his life, he was asked to write a ballet based on a story by E.T.A. Hoffmann called The Nutcracker and the Mouse-King. A simple task for someone so great, but something happened as he read the story. He suddenly began to fear the impossibility of bring this story to life in music and dance. ‘There are so many fantastic characters,’ he said. ‘How does one bring the real girl Clara to life and give her Godfather magical powers in music, or capture the charm, abandon, and sparkle of the Sugar-Plum Fairy?’
And so he began to write what would become his most perfect ballet—The Nutcracker.
— From the spoken text by Jonathan McPhee