John Mauceri conducts his orchestra

The Nutcracker and the Mouse King

Premiering Tuesday, Dec. 14 at 8 p.m.

Conceived by Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award winner John Mauceri, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” is a delightful re-imagining of Tchaikovsky’s perennial holiday favorite, “The Nutcracker.” Based on the original E.T.A. Hoffmann novella published in 1816, this new musical production features Alan Cumming recounting the three-part tale: the Nutcracker’s origin story, the well-known events on Christmas Eve, and what happens to the girl and the prince after the beloved ballet ends. Music from Tchaikovsky’s tone poems, orchestral suites and the magical score for “The Nutcracker” ballet, performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under the musical direction of Mauceri, help tell this cherished tale.

Commentary from Mauceri provides additional context for the history behind this classic, pointing out that Hoffmann’s original narrative is about a young girl who saves a prince — the opposite of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. Carved wooden nutcrackers dressed as soldiers first appeared in Germany in the early 1800s, providing inspiration for Hoffmann. Alexander Dumas, the most successful French author of the 19th century, translated Hoffmann’s work in 1845. Mauceri believes that Dumas, the grandson of a French aristocrat and an African Haitian slave, was drawn to a story where the young girl grows up to become the queen of a land of tolerance and imagination. It was the version by Dumas that was adapted by Tchaikovsky in 1892. The composer was actually writing the score when he traveled to New York City to conduct the grand opening concert of Carnegie Hall in 1891.

“It makes for a great tale, one that is both familiar and unknown,” said Mauceri. “Perhaps it can do what Hoffmann intended: encourage children to follow their dreams and never stop believing in the power of imagination and the possibility that we can all live together in raucous harmony and understanding.”

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