Music: By Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky (The Nutcracker, produced 1892; violin cadenza from The Sleeping Beauty added 1955). Based on the Alexandre Dumas père version of E. T. A. Hoffmann's tale, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1816).
Choreography: By George Balanchine. CANDY CANE variation (TREPAK) and Little Prince's mime choreographed by Lev Ivanov. BATTLE BETWEEN THE NUTCRACKER AND THE MOUSE KING choreographed by Jerome Robbins.
Production: Scenery by Horace Armistead, executed by Century Scenic Studios. Costumes by Karinska. Masks by Vlady. Lighting and production by Jean Rosenthal.
Premiere: February 2, 1954, New York City Ballet with students from the School of American Ballet, City Center of Music and Drama, New York.
Conductor: Leon Barzin.
Cast: ACT I, SCENE 1, CHRISTMAS PARTY AT THE HOME OF DR. STAHLBAUM, NUREMBERG, CA. 1816: Dr. and Frau Stahlbaum, Frank Hobi, Irene Larsson; Their Children, Clara and Fritz, Alberta Grant, Susan Kaufman; Maid; Guests: 4 Parents, 11 Children, 2 Grandparents; Herr Drosselmeyer, Michael Arshansky; His Nephew (The Nutcracker), Paul Nickel; Toys: Harlequin and Columbine, Gloria Vauges, Kaye Sargent; Toy Soldier, Roy Tobias; SCENE 2, THE BATTLE BETWEEN THE NUTCRACKER AND THE MOUSE KING: Mouse King, Edward Bigelow; Nutcracker; Clara; 8 Mice; 19 Child Soldiers; SCENE 3, THE WHITE FOREST AND THE SNOWFLAKE WALTZ: Nutcracker; Clara; Snowflakes, 16 women. Boys choir (40 voices) from St. Thomas Episcopal Church. ACT II, CONFITUERENBURG (THE KINGDOM OF THE SUGAR PLUM FAIRY): Sugar Plum Fairy, Maria Tallchief; Her Cavalier, Nicholas Magallanes; Little Princess, Grant; Little Prince, Nickel; Angels, 8 girls; DIVERTISSEMENTS: HOT CHOCOLATE (SPANISH DANCE): Yvonne Mounsey, Herbert Bliss, 4 couples; COFFEE (ARABIAN DANCE): Francisco Moncion, 4 children; TEA (CHINESE DANCE): George Li, 2 women; CANDY CANES (BUFFOONS): Robert Barnett, 6 girls; MARZIPAN SHEPHERDESSES (MIRLITONS): Janet Reed, 4 women; BONBONNIÈRE (MOTHER GINGER AND HER POLICHINELLES): Bigelow, 8 children; WALTZ OF THE CANDY FLOWERS: Dewdrop, Tanaquil Le Clercq; Flowers, 2 female demi-soloists; 12 women.
Note: Balanchine danced the roles of The Nutcracker/Little Prince, Mouse King, and others in productions by the Maryinsky Theater in Petrograd (later State Theater of Opera and Ballet) and was especially noted for his solo in the BUFFOONS' DANCE (TREPAK [CANDY CANE] variation). (See ROLES PERFORMED BY BALANCHINE.)
The 1954 Nutcracker was the first full-length work presented by the New York City Ballet; the overwhelming success of this production, with elaborate scenic effects, helped assure the permanence of the Company. The use of children from the School of American Ballet, recalling Balanchine's early experience at the Maryinsky, set a precedent for future New York City Ballet works. The Sleeping Beauty cadenza, interpolated into Act I by Balanchine in 1955, has the same theme as the 'tree growing' music from The Nutcracker which occurs later in Act I.
New Productions by Balanchine Companies: 1964, New York City Ballet: New scenery and lighting by Rouben Ter-Arutunian for the New York State Theater, executed by Feller Scenery Studios, tree by Decorative Plant Corporation; some new costumes by Karinska.
Film: 1993, Warner Bros., George Balanchine's The Nutcracker (adaptation).
Video/DVD: 1993, Warner Home Video, George Balanchine's The Nutcracker (adaptation); 1994, Kultur, Balanchine (excerpts from Act I with Balanchine as Drosselmeyer); 2014 Video Artists International, New York City Ballet in Montreal, Vol. 2 (Grand pas de deux recorded 1957).
Archival Video: The George Balanchine Foundation Interpreters Archive (SUGAR PLUM FAIRY variation [partial], PAS DE DEUX), 1996.
Revisions: New York City Ballet: 1955, violin cadenza from The Sleeping Beauty added to extended pantomime in Act I; 1958, for national television broadcast and the 1958 performance season, GRAND PAS DE DEUX (Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier, end of Act II), replaced by PAS DE CINQ with Cavalier omitted and Sugar Plum Fairy supported in adagio by men from CHOCOLATE, COFFEE, TEA, CANDY CANES; variation for Sugar Plum Fairy moved to beginning of Act II from traditional placement at climax of GRAND PAS DE DEUX; 1959, adagio and coda of GRAND PAS DE DEUX restored with Cavalier, replacing PAS DE CINQ, but without variation for Cavalier; Sugar Plum Fairy variation retained at beginning of Act II; 1964 (for New York State Theater), more mice and children added to BATTLE scene; COFFEE (ARABIAN DANCE), formerly featuring hookah-smoking nobleman fanned by four parrots, rechoreographed as solo for a woman; 1968, introduction of mechanical device allowing Sugar Plum Fairy to glide across stage on one pointe; 1972, eight child mice added; 1979, opening section of SNOWFLAKE WALTZ revised; COFFEE (ARABIAN DANCE) substantially rechoreographed; 1983, two adult couples, a teenage couple (guests), and another maid added to PARTY SCENE, ACT I, SCENE 1, by Peter Martins, following a plan of Balanchine's.