The Story of “Twas the Night Before Nutcracker”






Prologue “In the Rehearsal Room”

A group of dancers, on holiday from their regular jobs at the Maryinsky Ballet in St Petersburg, performed a season of ballet at a dowdy theatre in Paris. They were presented by impresario Serge Diaghilev, who calculated that ballet would be cheaper than the opera he’d presented there the previous year. Diaghilev milked his contacts, and opening night was duly attended by ministers, high society, artists and aristocrats. They became an immediate success.  It is now two years later and there is a Ballet Academy that has been formed in Paris.

Maria (age 10 years old) is growing up ‐ with all the sensations, conflicts and moods that this rite of passage entails. More than anything she wants to be a famous ballerina one day.   She trains every day at the most prominent ballet academy, where the legendary Impresario Sergei Diaghilev serves as the Director. It is the night before the opening of the Nutcracker tour. Everyone in the company including the principal dancers has arrived. The famous prima ballerina assoluta, Dame Alicia Markova teaches the dancers their final class.  When class is over all the soloist and principal dancers begin to gather their belongings. Before they leave, they stop to acknowledge the talented students of the Academy especially young Maria.  All of the inspiration of being in class with these famous dancers magnified by the many hours of rehearsals classes and training begin to catch up with Maria.  At the end of class she realizes how fatigued she is and sits down for a moment with her coach Madame Markova.  She quickly falls asleep. And for a long moment, that dream of being a ballerina becomes so close. -almost real.

 Scene 1 –   The Opening of Act 1

Fast asleep from her hard rehearsal, Maria dreams that the performance is about to begin. All the sets are flown into place and all the dancers enter stage to begin the performance.  Maria takes her place, and opening night of “The Nutcracker “begins.  The Holiday festivities begin to hit fever pitch, suddenly on cue the surprise guest arrives.  The mysterious godfather to Maria, Godfather Drosselmeyer enters the stage.  However, it is not Godfather Drosselmeyer but Impresario Sergei Diaghilev! The performance takes a different turn. Instead of magical dolls and toys for family and friends, Maria dreams of other famous ballet solos and duets she loves.  Two of the company dancers perform Harlequinade Pas de deux and Maria’s favorite male dancer, dances as the Drummer Boy.

Chards of The real Nutcracker performance now get more puzzling .  When it is time to receive the gift of the coveted Nutcracker doll,  Maestro  Diaghilev gives the prize to one of the ballerinas in her class.  Realizing how sad Maria is by this action, Maestro Diaghilev asks Maria to dance a solo for him. Diaghilev’s success depended primarily on his ability to identify and bring together the most creative artists of his day. After seeing her dance, Diaghilev who always had a nose for talent, realizes his mistake and before he takes leaves of the stage he returns the Nutcracker to Maria

Scene 2 – At Midnight

The guests have left, Maria enters the room once more, finds the nutcracker and cradles in her arm. An enormous shadow on the wall startles Maria as mice creep into the room. Maria hides her eyes and realizes she is trapped in a nightmare. Strange things begin to happen. She is startled by the appearance of Sergei Diaghilev  who conjures up all the characters in the real Nutcracker including the Nutcracker Prince and the Mouse King.   She takes part in a magnificent rehearsal that ends differently than the traditional Nutcracker scenario.

Scene 3 – A Snow Scherzo 

When the Rehearsal is over Maria turns to Maestro Diaghilev and asks how she can make the Nutcracker stay. Instead, in a flurry of magic, Maestro Diaghilev offers to take Maria on a wonderful journey to many great places. First they must pass through the Land of the Snow to visit the Snowflake Fairies.

Act 2 – At the Paris Opera

As Maria´s Dream continues – It is now performance time.  Diaghilev shows Maria how a production is created: the empty stage becomes a scenario in which everything is in preparation for the performance. Diaghilev shows several divertissements, and at times he takes part in the dancing.  They perform a variety of specialty dances, including Hot Chocolate from Spain, Coffee from Arabia, Tea from China, a and a Russian Trepak.  Maria laughs when all of the little bonbons and the ribbons perform. Finally, there is the glorious waltz with all the beautiful flowers. When they are finished the Sugar Plum Fairy and Prince perform the grandest dance of all for Maria, the Pas de Deux.  After the turbulent finale, the action stops – Now will Maria’s Dream come true?

Apotheosis – In the Rehearsal Room

Marie is back in rehearsal room with Sergei Diaghilev and Dame Alicia Markova. She is awakened and wistfully takes leave of her dream.

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 “Twas the Night Before Nutcracker”




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