The Nutcracker Story

The Nutcracker Ballet is based on the story “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice” written by E.T.A. Hoffman.  Although what is seen on the stage today is different in detail from the original story, the basic plot remains the same.  The story of a young German girl who dreams of a Nutcracker Prince and his fierce battle against a Mouse King with seven heads.

It is Christmas Eve 1830, in the home of a European city official, President Stahlbaum.  He and his wife and children, Clara and Fritz, welcome their guests to the annual Christmas party.  The party grows festive with music and dance as Uncle Drosselmeyer, Clara’s godfather, arrives. Drosselmeyer is a skilled clock maker and toy maker. He is a mysterious figure and when he first arrives he scares all the children except Clara and Fritz. Every Christmas, Drosselmeyer brings the children strange and wonderful toys.  The mood of the party changes when he presents magnificent life-size dancing dolls.  Clara asks her uncle if she can keep the dolls, but he has brought her something even better — a toy nutcracker. Clara loves the Nutcracker but Fritz is jealous and snatches the Nutcracker from Clara and breaks it.  Uncle Drosselmeyer bandages the Nutcracker and Clara puts him to bed for the night.

The guests leave and all is quiet.  Unable to sleep, Clara tiptoes downstairs to check on her beloved nutcracker doll.  She falls asleep with the Nutcracker in her arms.  Suddenly strange things begin to happen and large mice invade the room.  Then, as the clock strikes midnight, Drosselmeyer returns, and, to Clara’s astonishment, he magically makes the Christmas tree grow high above her and brings the Nutcracker to life.  The toy soldiers around the tree come alive while the room fills with an army of mice, led by the fierce Mouse King.  The Nutcracker leads his army of toy soldiers into battle against the mice.  After the Nutcracker has fallen and all hope seems lost, Clara kills the Mouse King with her shoe.  Drosselmeyer reappears, and raises the Nutcracker, who is transformed into a handsome young prince.  He invites Clara to journey with him to his real home- the Land of Sweets, the Kingdom of the Sugar Plum Fairy.  They are guided on their way by the Winter Snows, who have been brought to life by the magic of Christmas.

Arriving in the Land of Sweets, Clara is welcomed by the Sugar Plum Fairy and Clara’s most beautiful dreams come to life. The Nutcracker Prince tells the Sugar Plum Fairy about their daring battle with the army of mice and how Clara saved his life in his battle with the Mouse King.  The Sugar Plum Fairy announces that a huge banquet shall be held in Clara’s honor where she is rewarded with a celebration of dances.  From near and far, marvelous characters come to entertain her. When Clara thinks she has seen everything beautiful in the land, the Sugar Plum Fairy dances with her Cavalier.  Soon the Land of Sweets begins to get hazy and Clara opens her eyes to find herself in the old armchair in her parents’ house, wondering if it was all a dream…