A Christmas Story......The Nutcracker
On a snowy Christmas eve in an old European village, the air is fragrant with the smell of gingerbread and roasting chestnuts.
While twists of smoke rise from the chimneys, and colored lights twinkle in every window, shimmering Christmas music promises magic to come.
The Silberhaus’s comfortable home is alive with final
preparations for the annual Christmas party. The mistletoe must still be hung, and a few last-minute gifts need wrapping. While the grown-ups bustle about, Clara and Fritz, Dr. Silberhaus’s small children, wait as patiently as two small children can.
Soon family and friends begin arriving, dressed in their holiday silks and satins when a mysterious dark figure enters the drawing room.
“Who is that?” whispers a nervous Fritz.
“I know,” answers Clara.
When the stranger removes his cape and hat, it is obvious to everyone: Herr Drosselmeyer the famous toy maker has arrived.
“Godfather!” squeals Clara, her delight mixed with awe at the sight of this old family friend. He is dressed all in black, with a patch over one eye and a fine web of wrinkles covering his face. A handsome young boy accompanies him. “Good evening, friends,” says Drosselmeyer. “Clara, come and meet my nephew.”
Clara steps forward shyly and blushes when she in introduced to young Drosselmeyer. The new friends join the other cousins and friends, begging for games and dances and presents.
Dr. Silberhaus signals for the entertainment to begin and the children perform an energetic little march. Some of the parents, carried away by the joyous music, join in the dancing.
Drosselmeyer interrupts the dancing to delight the children with magic tricks. After a competitive game of tug of war between the girls and the boys, Drosselmeyer enchants them with his latest
inventions. He unveils two life size dolls - Columbine, a puppet with strings and a wind up soldier that performs a mechanical dance.
While the children debate whether the dolls are alive or not, Dr. and Mrs. Silberhaus bring in gifts for the children. The little girls are delighted to find lovely china dolls under the tissue and ribbons, while the boys smile with pleasure at their bugles. Fritz receives his very own drum but it appears there is no gift for Clara.
“Ah, my little Clara, I have a special toy for you,” says
Drosselmeyer beckoning her to come closer. The old man hands her a funny-looking wooden soldier painted red, blue and gold. Its head is much too large for its body, and its enormous mouth displays a huge set of teeth.
“This is a Nutcracker,” says her godfather.
A wide-eyed Clara takes the toy. She has never seen anything to equal it in the whole world.
“Thank-you Godfather! But how does it work?”
Drosselmeyer shows the children how to crack a nut in the Nutcracker’s jaw. “Gently.... like this,” he explains, and shells a walnut. He hands the Nutcracker back to Clara. Fritz has grown angrier and more jealous by the minute. He steals the Nutcracker away from Clara and plays a game of toss with his friends that end in a terrible accident. The Nutcracker smashes to the floor.
“Fritz, how can you be so cruel?” she sobs. “My poor Nutcracker!”
Drosselmeyer bandages the Nutcracker’s broken jaw with his handkerchief and promises to fix him later.
Cradling the wounded Nutcracker, Clara rejoins her girl friends. They rock their dolls to a soothing lullaby, but the peace is soon broken. The boys banging their drums and blowing their bugles, charge into the little domestic circle.
In the midst of the din, Drosselmeyer’s nephew offers Clara a little doll’s bed for the injured toy. Gratefully, she puts her Nutcracker to rest under the Christmas tree.
Herr Drosselmeyer wants to dance one last lively folk dance, but can’t find a partner with the energy to keep up with him among all the ladies at the party. All except Grand mama. Together they hop, skip and whirl to the delight of everyone. The parents, realizing how tired their children are prepare to leave. Everyone is sure to thank Dr. Silberhaus and his family for the wonderful
time they had at the party.
As Drosselmeyer and his gallant nephew leave, the young Drosselmeyer suggests “Perhaps we’ll meet again soon.” “I hope so,” smiles Clara.
The drawing room is empty and dark. The Silberhaus household is fast asleep, except for Clara. She longs to see her Nutcracker once more. She tiptoes into the drawing room in her night gown and lifted the toy from its bed: but, in the dark, the familiar room seems a strange, mysterious lace. Just a little bit afraid, she hugs the Nutcracker close and lies down under the tree. In
spite of her fears, Clara is soon asleep and the household is quiet again, or is it?
Suddenly Clara awakes to find herself surrounded by huge mice.
“How horrible!” Clara cries out.
Now such rustlings and scratching shake the room that Clara is certain the house is alive. Music whistles like a high wind, spins through the air, and wraps her in a marvelous melody.
Before her eyes, the furniture seems to come alive and dance away. And then the Christmas tree begins growing, climbing higher and higher; yet no matter how high its grows it never seems to reach the ceiling. Perhaps the walls of the room are growing too.
Now the Nutcracker’s little bed is life-size and the sleeping Nutcracker is bigger than Clara. Even Fritz’s toy soldiers and toy canon are growing by the second. And her very own stuffed bunny now towers over her.
Clara can’t decide whether to be frightened or delighted, when suddenly the hordes of huge gray mice return dressed as footmen with their eyes glinting in the darkness.
“Help!” she screams.
Under the direction of the Nutcracker Prince, the toys mass into formation. A shot is fired, and the battle begins. Trumpets, flutes, and drums urge the struggling soldiers on but they are a poor match for the ferocious mice.
The Nutcracker orders the bunny to use the canon. Wedges of cheese fly from the mouth of the canon and the mice scamper off. The troops stand at ease and
all seems well when a horrible creature crosses their path.
The Mouse King has come for revenge. He is so enraged to find his mice defeated he orders a fresh attack on the weary soldiers.
Clara stands by helplessly amid the clatter and chaos watching as the soldiers fall and her Nutcracker is left alone to battle the vicious creature. Seeing that her dear Nutcracker is about to be run through by the villain’s blade, Clara rips off her slipper
and hurls it at the beast.
A direct hit!
The Mouse King is stunned, and the Nutcracker thrusts his sword through the creature’s heart.
Clara swoons and falls on to the life-size doll’s bed. As the music gently plays, wonderful, magical things begin to happen.
The Christmas tree rises into the air. Angels appear from no where as the bed floats like a magic carpet and turns into a sleigh. With the Nutcracker Prince leading the way into the snowy Christmas forest, Clara notices he is no longer wooden and doll-like but is a handsome young man that looks just like Herr
“I’m not even cold,” she whispers to herself. “Where are we going, Nutcracker?” “We are on our way to the most delicious place in the world,” he smiles.
A elegant Snow Queen appears, magically transforming the falling snowflakes into beautiful maidens, who leap through the air in whirling patterns. A chorus of young, shining voices hum a
“This is the most wonderful night of my life!” Clara thinks as she and her prince float through the snow in their own sleigh escorted by a host of angels.
A bouquet of sweetly glazed flowers, led by their lovely queen, the Sugar Plum Fairy, await the arrival of Clara and the prince in the delicious Land of Sweets. Ladyfinger mountain peaks are capped with whipped cream. And everywhere, everything is colored
with the most beautiful shades of buttercream frosting.
Twelve charming little angels escort Clara and the prince into the candy castle as all the inhabitants of the Land of Sweets assemble to greet them. The prince introduces Clara to the Sugar Plum Fairy.
“Have you traveled far? What have you seen?” asked the fairy.
The prince reenacts his perilous adventures, demonstrating how the mice attacked and how he lead his troops against them. He finishes with an exciting re-creation of his duel to the death with the Mouse King.
“If it wasn't for Clara’s well-aimed slipper, I would have been killed. Her bravery enabled me to deal he final blow to my enemy.”
Clara is proud and happy.
The Sugar Plum Fairy, impressed with their noble deeds, escorts them to a candied throne, where a banquet of every imaginable sweet awaits them.
“Bring on the entertainment!” commands the queen.
The dancing is as appetizing as the feast. Swirling hot chocolate perform a Spanish fandango to lilting
trumpets and crisp castanets. Coffee, a veiled harem girl, weaves her body in sinuous curves to
a mysterious song of Arabia.
A spicy chorus of flutes introduces a cheerful Mandarin Tea. Matroishkas, the Russian nesting dolls, spring on stage and leap and whirl to an exciting Trepak.
And there is more for Clara to see, she licks her lips as a Marzipan Princess dances to sugar pan flutes surrounded by yummy fluffs of cotton candy ballerinas.
And finally, to Clara’s great amusement, Mother Ginger, as big and wide as a house, waddles across the floor.
She parts her voluminous skirts and out charge eight ginger bread cookie boys and girls. Kicking their legs to the happy melody, they dance in a circle around bemused Mother Ginger, then obediently crawl back
under her petticoats as she toddles off.
A harp introduces Clara to the loveliest waltz she has ever heard, the Waltz of the Flowers. The radiant flowers dance in weaving patterns as a single Dewdrop, flying among them, alights here and there.
And still there is more.
A hush falls over the court of the Sugar Plum Fairy. The queen’s cavalier, exquisitely handsome, takes her in his arms. She balances regally on his arm and then he lifts her high in the air. Joyfully, the cavalier spins and turn, inspiring the Sugar Plum Fairy to dance for him.
To the ethereal sound of a celesta, she steps as delicately if she were dancing on clouds of spun
sugar. When their duet comes to an end and the cavalier hold his queen, Clara thinks, “Now I have seen perfect happiness.”
All the inhabitants of the land return to dance an affectionate farewell to the young couple.
“Goodbye! Goodbye!” they chime, as Clara and the prince are led to a sleigh escorted by a throng of angels.
As they float away, Clara turns to her prince and says, “I wish this glorious adventure would never end!”
And it never will, for wonderful things will always be seen by those who have the eye to see them.
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