The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol

December 2023 Living

By Alenka Žvikart

The spirit of the holidays can feel like magic to some and to others more like a deadline, looming on the horizon. Whether you fall under the first or the second category, this festive story will bring you some cheer. Nutcracker - A Christmas Carol is an evergreen sensation which can lighten up even the Scroogiest of Scrooges among us. Since its premiere season in 2002/2003, the show has experienced more than 180 repetitions on the SNG Opera and Ballet Ljubljana stage.

Judging by this year’s sold-out performances of this iconic ballet, Ljubljana was in dire need of magic this year. For those who missed out on tickets to this year’s show, we have decided to bring a touch of Nutcracker magic this morning to your home.  Take a journey into the land of sugar, snow, and fantasy by immersing yourself into one of the literary inspirations behind the ballet: A Christmas Carol, penned by the illustrious English novelist and social critic of the Victorian era, Charles Dickens. A Christmas Carol is a novella that has become a timeless classic. It tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly old man who undergoes a transformation after being visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. The tale beautifully highlights themes of redemption, compassion, and the true spirit of Christmas.

Another Christmas classic from which the libretto is adapted, is E.T.A. Hoffman’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. In the story, the Nutcracker is a Christmas toy that comes to life and defeats the evil Mouse King. The ballet is a combination of the two classic literature pieces.  It tells the story of a young girl Marie Stahlbaum who receives a nutcracker toy as a Christmas gift from her godfather, Drosselmeyer. On Christmas Eve, the magical toy comes to life, and Marie finds herself in a fantastical world of princes, sweets, and fairies.

Nutcracker’s storyline is indeed whimsical and fun, however, when it comes to magic, the music takes the cake. The performance’s most famous piece of musical writing is the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and originally choreographed by Lev Ivanov. The Sugar Plum Fairy is the ballet’s leading role and one of the most challenging performances. This captivating character was initially brought to life by an Italian prima donna and a ballet dancer, Antonietta Dell’Eraa. The original play from 1982 was already revolutionary as it included a lot of child ballet dancers, who brought a unique magical energy to the performance. In Ljubljana, the ballet still follows this tradition. In the show, ballet soloists and the ballet choir of the SNG Opera and Ballet Ljubljana perform along with students from the Conservatory of Music and Ballet in Ljubljana.