The Washington Ballet: The Nutcracker
It’s Christmas Eve in 1882 in a Georgetown mansion. Clara and her family prepare for a holiday celebration. As the guests arrive, Clara’s mysterious godfather, Mr. Drosselmeyer, enters with his handsome young nephew, who greets Clara with a kiss on her hand. Drosselmeyer entertains the guests with a puppet show and dancing dolls and presents Clara with a special gift—a nutcracker. Jealous of his sister’s present, Fritz seizes the nutcracker and breaks it. As the party ends, Clara sadly places the nutcracker under the Christmas tree. Later that night, after everyone has gone to bed, Clara tiptoes downstairs to retrieve her nutcracker. Suddenly, the room fills with scurrying mice. Eventually, Clara falls asleep and begins to dream. When the clock strikes midnight, Drosselmeyer’s magic begins. The Christmas tree grows and a battle ensues between a brigade of toy soldiers led by a life-sized nutcracker against the Rat King and his menacing rats. As the Rat King nears victory, Clara distracts him, enabling the nutcracker to kill him. Suddenly, the nutcracker is turned into a handsome prince. He leads Clara through the enchanted winter to a glorious springtime.
Clara and her Nutcracker Prince travel to Springtime, where the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. They are greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy, her Cavalier and her attendants: butterflies, mushrooms and other woodland creatures. When the Prince tells them how Clara saved his life, the Sugar Plum Fairy summons her subjects to entertain them with wonderful dances—Spanish and Chinese dances, a duet for an Anacostian brave and maiden. Brilliant red cardinals frolic with a Tom Cat; an American frontiersman dances with frontier girls; Mother Barnum dances with her circus clowns; and the waltz of the Cherry Blossoms is led by the Dew Drop Fairy. The celebration comes to a spectacular climax when the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier perform a grand pas de deux. Just before the curtain falls, we see Clara asleep with her nutcracker, marking an end to her magical journey.