the Ballet
Ballet Encyclopedia

The Nutcracker

Islom Baimuradov

Act I: It is Christmas Eve at the wealthy Mr. Stahlbaum's house and he is giving a party for his children Clara and Fritz. Mr. Drosselmeyer arrives bringing many presents and puppets with which he puts on a puppet show. He also gives gifts to the children. Clara receives a Nutcracker shaped like a toy soldier, which Fritz breaks. Mr. Drosselmeyer quickly repairs the Nutcracker and the party goes on. Later on Clara falls asleep with the Nutcracker and the room magically grows larger and larger, and when Drosselmeyer signals, the toys come alive. The tin soldiers march around and fight an army of mice from the cellar. There is a great battle and in the end the mice run away and the Nutcracker turns into a handsome prince. The night sky clears and Clara and her prince set out to his castle through a land of snow. Act II: At the castle, they enjoy performances by his court. Many of the dances represent foods, (Chinese is tea, Spanish is chocolate, etc.). In the end Clara wakes up on Christmas morning and it has all been a dream.

of note:

Clara is sometimes called Maria, especially in Russia. In some versions of The Nutcracker it is a birthday party, not a Christmas party. This is the most popular of all ballets, probably because of its association with Christmas. It is based on the story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffman, but the story is sweetened a lot for the ballet.