The subtle timbre of the celesta – the odd looking instrument that resembles an upright piano and gives us the signature sound of the «Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy» – will waft through the Athens Concert Hall as the venue stages «The Nutcracker,» a Christmas ballet classic that debuted in St. Petersburg in 1892. Part of the «Christmas at the Athens Concert Hall» series, matinee and evening performances of «The Nutcracker» will take place at the Alexandra Trianti Hall on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, with additional performances scheduled for December 27, 28 and 29. The production is based on the original two-act ballet composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky with a libretto by Marius Petipa and choreography by Vasiliy Vainonen. The sets and costumes are designed by Anna and Anatoly Nezhnye. Performances will feature star soloists and the corps de ballet of the Bolshoi Theater, as well as dancers from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. Celebrating 237 years of operation, the Bolshoi Ballet Academy is one of the world’s top dance schools, whose alumni include towering figures of the milieu, such as a Maya Plisetskaya, Igor Moiseyev, Irek Mukhamedov, Ekaterina Maximova, Maris Liepa and Vladimir Vasiliev, as well as representatives of a younger generation of stars like Vladimir Malakhov and Natalia Osipova. Based on E.T.A. Hoffman’s fairy tale «The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,» the ballet opens on Christmas Eve in a 19th century Russian town. This is where uncle Drosselmeyer, a magician, gives Maria, his young niece, a doll dressed in a red uniform. She loves the doll, but her brother breaks it in a fit of jealousy. Uncle Drosselmeyer places the doll under the Christmas tree to mend and Maria falls asleep with it in her arms, entering a dream world where toys come to life. Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali & Vas. Sofias, tel 210.728.2333, www.megaron.gr.