Festive lights and decorations are now appearing everywhere one looks and Christmas performances are being staged in the theatres and at the Hungarian State Opera House, including of course Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet and festive favourite The Nutcracker.
The ballet premiered in December 1892 in St. Petersburg and was staged by the renowned choreographer Marius Petipa at the request of Tchaikovsky. The Nutcracker ballet was based on the Russian version of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by the German romanticist E.T.A. Hoffmann.
It remains a Christmas classic, as the piece whisks audiences away to a fantastical and romantic dream world, The art of the ballet loved by young and old alike particularly lies in not crossing the line to kitsch; not easy since the costumes and other decorations are often highly ostentatious.
The ballet tells of a young girl Marie (Masha in the Russian original), who is given the gift of the Nutcracker by her mysterious godfather Herr Drosselmeyer on Christmas Eve. That night she dreams of a battle between the toy soldiers led by the Nutcracker and the army of the Mouse King. With Marie’s help, the Nutcracker triumphs, after which he turns into a prince and travels with her to the Kingdom of Sweets, where the Sugar Plum Fairy holds festivities in their honour.
Some performances have already sold out, but a resourceful hotel concierge may be able to lay his hands on a pair:
Performances & venues
– Classic performances of the ballet will be held at the Hungarian State Opera House throughout December with tickets available from HUF 400 to HUF 10,900. Hungarian State Opera House District VI, Andrássy út 22. Tel. (06-1) 353-0170. Box office open Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-show time. (When there are no shows, open 11 am–5 pm) www.opera.hu
– The ballet can be seen on ice at the Ice Theatre in the Récsi Center. Tickets for the performances between 4 and 28 December cost from HUF 2,490 to HUF 2,990. Ice Theatre District XIV, Istvánmezei út 6. Tel. (06-20) 577-1282. www.jegszinhaz.hu
– The Nutcracker will be shown at the Budapest Puppet Theatre on 10, 13, 15, 16, 19, 21 and 29 December. Tickets are still available for some performances from HUF 1,100. Budapest Puppet Theatre District VI, Andrássy út 69. Tel. (06-1) 342-2702, www.budapest-babszinhaz.hu
– The ballet will be performed daily at the Thalia Theatre from 11 to 20 December apart from 14 December. Tickets are available in various price categories from HUF 3,000. Thalia Theatre District VI, Nagymez? u. 22-24. Tel. (06-1) 312-4230. www.thalia.hu
– The Nutcracker is also on at the Palace of Arts, but all performances have already sold out. Palace of Arts District IX, Komor Marcell utca 1. Tel. (06-1) 555-3300 www.mupa.hu