In a small German town a hundred years ago, guests are arriving at the house of Dr. Stahlbaum who is giving a Christmas Eve party. As the guests enter the comfortable parlor, we see
their excitement. Dr. Stahlbaum's children, Clara and Fritz, are particularly excited.
Clara is a slightly shy, dreamy little girl. Fritz, however, is a little scamp. Sometimes they quarrel and their parents have to step in as mediators. Tonight, however, they are united in their admiration for the
Christmas tree which fills one end of the parlor.
As we watch, gifts are exchanged and the children play with their new toys. Although the little girls try to behave, the boys get rowdy and have to be hushed by
Another guest arrives. This is Drosselmeyer, Clara's godfather, and a very odd guest he is. His fingers are as agile as a magician's in performing and conjuring tricks. He is also a clockmaker
and an inventor who knows how to fashion all sorts of mechanical marvels. He has brought some to the party: life-sized dolls which, when they are wound up, jump and dance and whirl about. Everyone is fond of
Drosselmeyer, but there is something decidedly mysterious about him.
He gives Clara a strange present - a nutcracker shaped like a little man. It is a seemingly grotesque toy for a little girl but Clara
falls in love with it. When Fritz sees it he decides he wants it for himself. Pulling it away from Clara, he breaks it in the scuffle. Clara is heartbroken, but Drosselmeyer fixes the toy and dries her tears. One
last dance brings the party to an end. The guests depart and the Stahlbaum children are sent off to bed.
Clara cannot sleep, however, and she tiptoes downstairs for a peek at her nutcracker. Clasping it
in her arms. she curls up on the sofa and dozes off. As the big clock in the parlor strikes midnight: Clara awakens. How strange the parlor looks at night in the dark! Sinister shadows cross the floor and Clara even
imagines she sees Drosselmeyer in the face of the clock. Suddenly the room is invaded by mice - ugly, nasty, horrid mice.
They scurry hither and thither.
They start to attack Clara, but suddenly Drosselmeyer
appears. He tells her that the Nutcracker will keep her from harm and then disappears again.
Suddenly, the Nutcracker comes alive and the room is filled with a curious glow The Christmas tree begins to grow - up
and up it rises until the star at its tip bursts through the ceiling. The Nutcracker leads toy soldiers into battle against the mice and the Mouse King, but is overpowered by the vicious mice. Clara picks up a sword
and runs at the Mouse King in a frenzy, mortally wounding him. The mice carry off their king and leave Clara with her broken, lifeless Nutcracker.
Now comes the greatest magic of all. The Nutcracker comes to
life, but is no longer a toy. He is transformed into a handsome prince and he promises to take Clara
To a n enchanted realm. Clara and her Prince find
themselves in a forest of snow-covered trees, and as the
couple passes through the forest the first act comes to an end.
The curtain opens on the Palace of the Sugarplum Kingdom. Surrounding a throne of caramels and gumdrops, royal sentinels await
the return of their beloved Prince. The Nutcracker Prince arrives with Clara in a magical sleigh, and he tells the court how the fearless Clara killed the Mouse King and saved his life. They are greeted by other
members of the court, including the beautiful Sugarplum Fairy. The Nutcracker Prince rewards Clara with grand entertainment. Dancers representing many lands and coming from far-away places delight Clara with their
All parties, however - even magical ones - come to any end. And finally, the Sugarplum Fairy tells Clara it is time to go home. In the wink of an eye, she is home,
back on the parlor sofa. Just wonderful! Including dances: