The Nutcracker speaks to the child in everyone, with its happy dreams of snow, presents, adventures, toys and wishes fulfilled. Despite Tchaikovsky’s most addictive score, the original 1892 ballet was considered a failure, too much plot in the first act, not enough plot in the second. Yuri Grigorovich’s 1966 staging at the Bolshoi, designed by Simon Virsaladze, revised the incomplete scenario to focus on the dreams of the teenaged Masha, who receives a nutcracker doll from her godfather at her family’s Christmas party.
Sneaking down at night to find her doll, Masha is swept up in a magical transformation where the Christmas tree grows to huge size and rats fight an epic battle with the toys. With her help, the toys
win out, and the nutcracker turns into a handsome Prince.The walls dissolve into a magical realm of snow, dolls and delights, of which Masha is queen. She dances with her dream Prince, before waking up with the nutcracker doll on her lap.
Grigorovich’s production has become a firm favourite in Russia, beloved for its folk-tinged characters and festive atmosphere, and every young ballerina longs to dance Masha. The chance to see the legendarily captivating Ekaterina Maximova as Masha, alongside her great husband, Vladimir Vasiliev, as the Nutcracker, makes this 1978 live recording, digitally restored and remastered to HD quality, essential viewing.