Based upon E.T.A. Hoffmann's Story
The Nutcracker and the Mouse King
It is Christmas Eve and Councillor Von Stahlbaum, a city official, and his wife are entertaining close friends and relatives. The Stahlbaum’s have two children, Fritz and Marie who are joined by their many friends and relatives. The children receive many gifts this Christmas when another guest arrives - an elderly man wearing a white wig and a patch over his right eye. This is the children’s Godfather Heir Drosselmeier.
Drosselmeier intrigues the children. Drosselmeier is a clock maker by trade, but he also produces wonderful mechanical toys for the children that come to life and dance. Drosselmeier gives Marie and Fritz a Nutcracker doll and shows Marie how to use the Nutcracker to crack nuts. Fritz is jealous and takes the Nutcracker from Marie and breaks the Nutcracker’s teeth when he tries to make the doll crack a very large nut. Drosselmeier and Marie attempt to repair the Nutcracker. As the party comes to an end, the guests dance “The Grandfather’s Dance” a traditional German folk dance.
After everyone has left Marie returns to the living room to search for her Nutcracker and she falls asleep on the couch. Drosselmeier appears and as the clock strikes twelve, Marie dreams that she sees many mice scampering through the living room. The living room transforms as the Christmas tree grows and life size toy soldiers and the Nutcracker battle the mice and Mouse King. The Nutcracker’s army retreats and the Nutcracker is over powered by the Mouse King. In an act of desperation, Marie throws her slipper at the Mouse King and the spell placed on the Nutcracker by the Mouse King’s family is finally broken. The Nutcracker is transformed into the prince he once was. He leads Marie through the Land of the Snowflakes on the way to the Land of the Sweets.
The second Act takes place in the Land of the Sweets at the Palace of the Sugarplum Kingdom. The Sugarplum Fairy arrives and introduces Marie and the Prince to her kingdom. The Prince tells how Marie saved him from the Mouse King. Marie and the Prince are then entertained by a host of dancing treats:
Spanish dancers (Chocolate),
- Arabian dancers (Coffee),
- Chinese (Tea),
- Mirlitons (Marzipan),
- Russian (Candy Canes),
- Mother Ginger’s children the Polichinelles,
- a magical Waltz of the Flowers,
- and finally the Grand Pas de Deux of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier.
As Act II comes to an end, so does Marie’s dream as her mother awakens her. But for Marie, this was no dream at all, it was all very real!
Image Amy Halsted