n image of a young girl reeling back in surprise from a book she is reading — her head is ‘open’ like the shell of a cracked nut. A figure is glimpsed inside her head, seemingly in some kind of a workshop. It is Drosselmeyer, a clockmaker and Godfather to the Stahlbaum children Louise, Fritz and Marie.
tHE HoUSE IN tHE ForESt
tahlbaum and his three children are bringing home the Christmas tree they have just cut down from the forest. They enter their house, and soon after Drosselmeyer appears and follows them inside. It is Christmas Eve.
he house opens (like a dollhouse might) to reveal the Stahlbaums preparing for their Christmas party. Drosselmeyer arrives and presents the children with a curious doll (a traditional german nutcracker in the form of a soldier) and a book. Marie, the youngest, is immediately attracted to the nutcracker, and places it in her dollhouse along with her much played-with and rather worse for wear doll Miss Clara. The childrenâ€™s governess enters the room and the atmosphere cools noticeably; she is drawn powerfully to the dollhouse where the nutcracker lays. Marie, sensing something strange about her governessâ€™ behaviour, closes the dollhouse. Guests arrive and with them more children and the party begins to warm up. Presently, Drosselmeyer and the family present a small entertainment for their guests, and Marie watches with her friends.
he Story of the Hard Nut deals with the beautiful Princess Pirlipat and her misfortune with Dame Mouserink, queen of the mice who live under the floorboards in the palace of the King and Queen â€” Pirlipatâ€™s parents. The Stahlbaums dress up as the principal characters and act out the story which tells of how Mouserink eats all the browned fat from the sausage pudding the Queen is making for the King and then bites Pirlipat as she lays in her crib, turning her hideously ugly. Her parents are distraught, but the dollhouse now appears, conjured up by Drosselmeyer, and Fritz pops out dressed as the nutcracker doll, followed by Louise dressed as Miss Clara. They dance together and it is apparent that the nutcracker is a gallant and honourable young man. The mood darkens and mouserink enters the room through the fireplace; there is something vaguely familiar about this creature and Marie is reminded of her governess. There ensues a mock battle as Mouserink attacks Miss Clara and chases the nutcracker into the dollhouse.
he ‘play’ over, the family sweep back into the room, removing their costumes and unmasking themselves. Soon, Marie finds herself alone and begins to play with her new doll. Drosselmeyer joins her and shows her how to work the doll’s mechanism. The governess returns briefly and picks up the doll but Marie rescues it, again intrigued by the similarity between her governess and Dame Mouserink. The party becomes more boisterous, and at its height the children’s Grandfather does his annual Bavarian turn to the delight of everyone, after which the guests leave and the house settles down for the night. Before he leaves, Drosselmeyer helps Marie put the nutcracker to bed in the dollhouse, and she drifts off to sleep curled up in front of it with the book.
arie, in a waking dream, encounters distorted scenes from the Hard Nut play with an even more terrifying Mouserink. The Christmas tree seems to be yearning to get back to the forest, and eventually breaks the window and escapes. Drosselmeyer struggles with Mouserink and banishes her, whereupon the dollhouse bursts open and the nutcracker tumbles out, miraculously alive. Fritz appears and presents Marie with the sword of his toy Captain of Hussars, which she gives to the Nutcracker. Another battle ensues in which the seven headed Mouse King — in fact Mouserink’s son — is slain, but not before he has wounded Marie. Drosselmeyer soothes her and conjures a vision of Nutcracker in the guise of his nephew, a handsome young man. Marie is confused but attracted to him, and as the vision fades she tries to follow him but is beaten back by a violent snowstorm, which blows into the house through the shattered window. Exhausted, she faints but Drosselmeyer rescues her and carries her out into the forest in search of the young man.
n idyllic summer forest; Marie is floating — delirious — while Drosselmeyer reads to her from the story of the Hard Nut. Images from Christmas Eve drift past them, only everything seems slightly mutated, as in dreams. Drosselmeyer rouses her and shows her another vision — a continuation of the little play from the party — in which his nephew breaks the curse on Pirlipat by cracking the Crackatook (the hardest nut in the world) the kernel of which, once eaten by Pirlipat, will cure her. But Mouserink returns in a rage and transfers the curse onto him… he has become Nutcracker! Being now hideously ugly himself, Pirlipat rejects him and he is left alone. Drosselmeyer having vanished, Marie comforts the transformed nephew and swears to love him despite his disfigurement. Suddenly Marie finds herself in a kind of Court in which she encounters what appears to be her family and guests from the party; Nutcracker has disappeared and in his place stands the hand-
some young nephew once more â€” Marieâ€™s love for him has broken the curse â€” and he takes her through the frame of a looking glass which curiously resembles the one above the fi replace in the room at home.
ouise and Fritz initiate a feast of dancing which culminates in a Grand Pas de Deux for the young lovers. The party over, Marie and Drosselmeyerâ€™s nephew are united in love in their new world.
Registered Charity No SC008037. Registered in Scotland No SC065497.