‘The Nutcracker’ in a nutshell: a viewer’s guide to the ballet
The plot line of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker”
It’s Christmas Eve long, long ago. The wait staff is making the Stahlbaum home ready for a celebration with family and friends.
Soon the guests arrive, dressed in their holiday finest. The adults laugh and talk while the children play and dance around the room. During the festivities, the magical Herr Drosselmeyer, the godfather of Clara Stahlbaum arrives. Everyone is delighted with his presentation of the mechanical dolls.
He then gives Clara the gift of a toy nutcracker, and she dances with the gift in her arms. Feeling mischievous, Clara’s brother Fritz suddenly grabs the nutcracker, and in his excitement, breaks it accidentally. Drosselmeyer comes to the rescue, repairing the broken toy for Clara to place beneath the tree.
The highlight of the evening arrives when the family and guests join hands for a stately dance. As the children tire, the celebrants bid farewell, and the Stahlbaums retire to their beds.
Later that night, Clara returns to the tree to retrieve her beloved nutcracker and falls asleep on the parlor lounge. Herr Drosselmeyer appears and begins to work his magic. The Christmas tree grows to giant proportions, and the mice and toys beneath the tree come to life. Clara’s nutcracker awakens her from her dream. As the rifle fires, a terrible battle ensues between the mice and the toy soldiers. The Nutcracker challenges the Mouse King to a battle and finally, fatally wounds his gigantic enemy. The mice drag away their fallen king, and the Nutcracker invites Clara on a journey to the Land of Sweets and the palace of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Clara and the Nutcracker Prince find themselves in a snowy forest, where winter never melts into spring. It is the Land of Snow. The Snow Queen greets them, and as Clara and the Prince watch; the Snow Queen and her snowflakes perform a swirling white dance.
The Sugar Archangels greet Clara and the prince upon their arrival in the Land of Sweets. The Court assembles, and the Sugar Plum Fairy commands a royal festival to honor her guests. They are treated to a magnificent show of dancing Spanish chocolate, Arabian coffee, Chinese tea, marzipan sweets, Russian trepak and Peppermint twist. As the magic continues, the Dew Drop Fairy appears and dances a waltz with the poinsettia flowers.
The Sugar Plum Fairy pays Clara and her prince a final tribute, and then includes them in her finale. When Clara sees Herr Drosselmeyer appear, she understands that her adventure must come to an end. She bids farewell to her enchanting friends and retreats from the land of her dreams.
– Courtesy Reno Dance Company