The Nutcracker And The Mouse King

Pyotr Tchaikovsky / Toer van Schayk, Wayne Eagling

  • Act I

    50 min.

  • Intermission

    20 min.

  • Act II

    50 min.

Duration: ca. 2 hrs

Ballet féerie in two acts
Libretto: Marius Petipa after E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story
World premiere: Mariinsky Theatre, Sankt Petersburg, 6 December 1892
Polish premiere: Teatr Nowości, Warsaw, 30 December 1922
Premiere of this production: Dutch National Ballet, Amsterdam, 13 December 1996
Premiere by the Polish National Ballet: Teatr Wielki, Warsaw, 25 November 2011

The story unfolds in Warsaw in the early 19th century. Famous German Romantic author E.T.A. Hoffmann lived here briefly. Some people believe that the tale of the Nutcracker and the Mouse King was born in his mind at the house in Freta Street, where he told it to the children of his friend Hitzig and only later wrote it down and had it published in Berlin. One such person is outstanding Dutch stage designer and choreographer Toer van Schayk. As the setting of the Warsaw production he chose the Hitzig home with its winter panorama of the River Vistula and the Royal Castle. He gave Clara a brother called John, and even invited Hoffmann himself to the Hitzigs’ house. It was in such scenery that he presented the charming tale of the festive adventures of young Clara and her fantastic escape from the mice to the land of toys and then inside a magic lantern. This ballet leaves an indelible impression. 

From the choreographer and director of the performance:

‘The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which will be premiered by the Polish National Ballet in 2011, is a highly successful version of the tale created by me and Wayne Eagling. It was first performed by Het Nationale Ballet in Amsterdam in 1996. I had originally set the action in Amsterdam. However, for this production in Poland I adapted the setting to 19th century Warsaw. Although the ballet is usually known as The Nutcracker, we wished to honour E.T.A. Hoffmann’s original tale and used the original title The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. I was delighted to find out that Hoffmann had lived in Warsaw, and in all likelihood had conceived the tale there around 1806. Therefore, I felt justified in including Hoffmann, with his famous tomcat Murr, among the guests at the St. Nicholas party, at the home of Hoffmann’s friend Julius Eduard Hitzig, another historical Varsovian figure. Not only the decor, but also parts of the choreography have been adapted or newly created for the Polish production. The Russian ballet scholar and composer Boris Asafiev wrote about The Nutcracker: “It is a rare artistic phenomenon, a symphony of childhood, or rather of the transition period, when the yearnings of a yet unknown adolescence make one restless, but the habits of childhood have not yet been left behind.’

Toer van Schayk



Polish National Ballet
Orchestra of the Teatr Wielki  Polish National Opera


  • Patron of Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera

  • Partners of Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera

  • Partner of the Polish National Ballet:

  • Media patrons of Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera