The Nutcracker is a can’t-miss holiday tradition for your whole family The Detroit News


Kicking off the holiday season Thanksgiving weekend, BalletMet’s The Nutcracker returns to the Detroit Opera House Nov. 24-25. Performed with the Michigan Opera Theatre Orchestra, the traditional production is the only local Nutcracker performance to feature a live orchestra, the way Tchaikovsky intended.

A rite of passage for children and adults alike, this iconic ballet is destined to create lasting memories. The Nutcracker will feature everything you fondly remember. Watch the dreams of young Clara spring to life, complete with the sparkling winter wonderland sets, captivating characters and all the thrilling surprises you’ve come to know and love over the years. Follow Clara and her beloved Nutcracker Prince as they travel to the Land of Sweets and meet the Sugar Plum Fairy, whose dance is among the most memorable parts of the show.

This annual tradition features dozens of local dancers, performing to one of the most well-known, best-loved music in history. Set on Christmas Eve during the Victorian era, The Nutcracker features more than 100 characters in a production designed to dazzle children and adults.

“Even though this ballet is more than 100 years old, each year of preparing The Nutcracker brings us new interpretations and some surprises with the performances of these beloved characters,” said BalletMet Artistic Director Edwaard Liang. BalletMet, based in Columbus, Ohio, ranks among the 20 largest ballet companies in the United States, and they are renowned for both their versatility and innovation.

Whether you’re experiencing The Nutcracker for the first time or it has become a cherished holiday tradition for your family, this ballet is sure to delight. (And, since a modern version of The Nutcracker arrives in theatres in November, it’s the perfect time to see the classic ballet, which debuted in 1892.)

Each matinee performance will include fun family activities prior to the performance, so plan to arrive early. In addition to the ballet accompanied by a live orchestra, the daytime shows will feature:

  • Live reindeer, on Broadway Street, from 1 p.m. through curtain time.
  • Photo opportunities with Santa and the Nutcracker (bring your own camera), in the Frankel Lounge (2nd Floor, Madison Street side), from 1 p.m. through intermission.
  • Holiday craft making with Arts & Scraps, in the Smith Lobby (1st Floor, Madison Street side), through intermission.
  • Holiday samples from Treat Dreams (while supplies last), in the Allesee Lounge (2nd Floor, Madison Street side), from 1 p.m. through curtain time.
  • Performances from local high school and college choirs, atop the Grand Staircase, during intermission.
  • Customized holiday ornaments for sale, in the Grand Lobby, during intermission.


BalletMet Masterclass

Michigan Opera Theatre will offer a Masterclass with BalletMet for young dancers on Saturday, November 24, from 11 to 12:30 p.m. All Masterclasses take place at the Detroit Opera House Margo V. Cohen Dance Studio; the class is free for ages 10 to 15, with a ticket to any Nutcracker performance. (The class fee is $25 without a ticket.) Pre-registration is required.  For information, call 313-237-3251 or contact

Plot synopsis

Act I

It’s Christmas Eve. The Stahlbaums are hosting their annual party in their majestically decorated home. The mysterious toymaker Herr Drosselmeyer arrives with gifts for the children. In addition to a lifelike doll, Clara receives another gift, a nutcracker that her brother promptly breaks. The party winds down and Clara falls asleep under the Christmas tree with her injured toy.

At midnight, she awakes to discover an army of mice, led by the Mouse King. They battle for the Nutcracker, whom Clara rescues with the help of toy soldiers and dolls. Clara and her Nutcracker Prince, who has come to life, begin their magical journey to his homeland.

Act II

The duo arrives in the Land of Sweets, where the Sugar Plum Fairy greets them. They retell the night’s events, and the Fairy dances for them and arranges a lavish celebration to honor their bravery. The night is filled with amazing surprises, including breathtaking dances, sweets of all kinds and Clara’s reunion with her doll.

As the party winds down, Clara wishes her adventure with her Nutcracker Prince would last forever. When Christmas morning arrives, will Clara find it was only a dream?

If you go

  • The Nutcracker, a collaboration between BalletMet, with artistic director Edwaard Liang, and Michigan Opera Theatre Orchestra, with Peter Stafford Wilson conducting.
  • Showtimes are Saturday, November 24, at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, November 25, at 2:30 p.m.
  • All shows are at the Detroit Opera House.
  • Single tickets are on sale now, and they can be purchased online, by calling 313-237-7464 or in person at the Detroit Opera House. Complete season information is also available. (Or add The Nutcracker to a Create-Your-Own subscription package.)




Members of the editorial and news staff of The Detroit News were not involved in the creation of this content.

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