It is Christmas Eve. Family and friends have gathered in the parlor to decorate the beautiful Christmas tree in preparation for the night’s festivities. Once the tree is finished, the children are sent for. They stand in awe of the tree sparkling with candles and decorations.
The festivities begin. A march is played. Presents are given out to the children. Suddenly, as the owl-topped grandmother clock strikes eight, a mysterious figure enters the room. It is Drosselmeyer, a local councilman, magician, and Clara’s godfather. He is also a talented toymaker who has brought with him gifts for the children, including four lifelike dolls who dance to the delight of all. He then has them put away for safekeeping.
Clara and Fritz are sad to see the dolls being taken away, but Drosselmeyer has yet another toy for them: a wooden Nutcracker carved in the shape of a little man, used for cracking nuts. The other children ignore it, but Clara immediately takes a liking to it. Fritz, however, purposely breaks it. Clara is heartbroken.
During the night, after everyone else has gone to bed, Clara returns to the parlor to check on her beloved Nutcracker. As she reaches the little bed, the clock strikes midnight and she looks up to see Drosselmeyer perched atop it in place of the owl. Suddenly, mice begin to fill the room and the Christmas tree begins to grow to dizzying heights. The Nutcracker also grows to life-size. Clara finds herself in the midst of a battle between an army of gingerbread soldiers and the mice, led by the Mouse King. The mice begin to eat the gingerbread soldiers.
The Nutcracker appears to lead the gingerbread soldiers, who are joined by tin soldiers and dolls who serve as doctors to carry away the wounded. As the Mouse King advances on the still-wounded Nutcracker, Clara throws her slipper at him, distracting him long enough for the Nutcracker to stab him.
The mice retreat and the Nutcracker is transformed into a handsome Prince. He leads Clara through the moonlit night to a pine forest in which the snowflakes dance around them.
Clara and the Prince travel in a nutshell boat pulled by dolphins to the beautiful Land of Sweets, ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Prince’s place until his return. He recounts for her how he had been saved by Clara from the Mouse King and had been transformed back into a Prince.
In honor of the young heroine, a celebration of sweets from around the world is produced: chocolate from Spain, coffee from Arabia, and tea from China all dance for their amusement; candy canes from Russia; Danish shepherdesses perform on their flutes; Mother Ginger has her children, the polichinelles, emerge from under her enormous skirt to dance; a string of beautiful flowers perform a waltz. To conclude the night, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier perform a dance.
A final waltz is performed by all the sweets, after which Clara and the Prince are crowned rulers of the Land of Sweets.
In the original libretto, the ballet’s apotheosis “represents a large beehive with flying bees, closely guarding their riches”. There have been various alternative endings created in productions subsequent to the original. See Wikipedia article List of productions of The Nutcracker for more details.
Special Nutcracker Events
Clara’s Nutcracker Party – December 15th, 2013 11am-1:30pm – University Club – SOLD OUT!
Clara’s Party is the family event of the holiday season! Enhance your Nutcracker experience with this popular event on December 15th 2013. Ticket price includes lunch, photos with Clara or the Nutcracker, crafts, a reading of the Nutcracker story with WOTV4’s Maranda, and more before you head to the 2pm performance, which is included in the admission to the party. The University Club, 111 Lyon St NW. Tickets are $55. This event is SOLD OUT! Call the Ballet to be added to the waitlist: (616) 454-4771.
Military Appreciation Day – December 14th, 2013 2:00pm & 7:30pm
As a welcome home for the holidays, we are reserving a limited number of seats to express our sincere gratitude to all of the men and women currently serving in the military. Active duty members of the armed forces who presents their military ID at the box office will receive two complimentary tickets to either performance on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 2:00pm or 7:30pm while supplies last. Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door. For more info, contact the Ballet at (616) 454-4771.
Sugar Plum Parades – December 14, 15, 21, 22, 2013 following each matinee performance
Make this year’s trip to The Nutcracker one your family won’t soon forget. Journey through the Sugar Plum Parade after each matinee performance. You will have the chance to go on stage, meet some of the characters, take photos and get autographs! Tickets just $5 per person (available in the lobby at the performance).