Friday 17 December 2010

The Nutcracker Suite

The Nutcracker is a story written by E.T.A. Hoffmann

which was turned into a ballet with music by the composer, Tchaikovsky.

The Christmas tale tells of a young girl named Clara who is given a beautiful wooden Nutcracker by her mysterious and magical uncle, Herr Drosselmeyer, a toymaker. On Christmas Eve night, either in a dream or in reality, Clara’s Nutcracker and the toys beneath the Christmas tree come to life. After doing battle with an army of wooden soldiers against the wicked Mouse King, the Nutcracker unmasks himself as a handsome prince and takes Clara to an enchanted kingdom.

The Party Scene

It is Christmas Eve at the Stahlbaum house n southern Germany ~ a large and grand house with the most beautiful tree imaginable.  The Stahlbaums are hosting their annual Christmas party, welcoming the arrival of their family and friends.  The children, Clara and Fritz, are dancing and playing as they welcome their friends too. Although it is past their bedtimes, they are allowed to stay until Herr Drosselmeier arrives! He is Clara’s mysterious godfather who always brings unusual things.

The party grows festive with music and dance as godfather Drosselmeyer arrives.  He is a skilled clock and toy maker and always full of surprises. Drosselmeyer draws everyone’s attention as he presents two life-size dolls ~ Columbine Doll & Harlequin Doll. Drosselmeyer brings these dolls to life. They are the delight of the party, each taking a turn to dance.

After making dolls come to life and dance, he gives Clara a special gift— a Nutcracker.

Everyone enjoys her fun with the Nutcracker except her jealous brother Fritz.

Grabbing it, he throws it to the ground and it breaks!

Clara is heartbroken looking on as Drosselmeyer quickly repairs the Nutcracker with a handkerchief he magically draws from the air. As the evening grows late, the guests depart and the Stahlbaum family retires for the evening.  Clara, worried about her beloved Nutcracker, sneaks back to the tree to check on him, falling asleep with him in her arms.

The Fight Scene

As the clock strikes midnight strange things begin to happen.  Clara begins shrinking as her beautiful Christmas tree grows high above her.  The toys around the tree come to life while the room fills with an army of mice, lead by the fierce Mouse King.

As the Nutcracker awakens, he lso becomes life-size and leads his army of toy gingerbread soldiers into battle with the mice.

The Mouse King corners the Nutcracker and battles him one-on-one.  The Nutcracker seems to be no match for the Mouse King. The Nutcracker and his army can go on no longer and are captured by the mice and their King.

The Mouse King corners the Nutcracker and battles him one-on-one.  The Nutcracker seems to be no match for the Mouse King. The Nutcracker and his army can go on no longer and are captured by the mice and their King.

Clara, awakened by all the excitement, makes a final daring charge throwing her slipper at the Mouse King, hitting him square on the head.  The Mouse King drops to the floor and the mice run away, carrying off their leader’s lifeless body. The Nutcracker is saved and turns into a handsome young prince!

The Land of Snow

Grateful to Marie for saving his life, and as a reward, he leads her through the beautiful Land of Snow,

an enchanted forest wonderland.  Dancing snowflakes greet and guide Clara and The Nutcracker Prince through the forest on the way to the Land of Sweets.

A chorus of swirling, icy snowflakes glittering in the moonlight.

The Land of Sweets

Clara and her Nutcracker Prince then sail to the Kingdom of Sweets in a nutshell boat pulled by dolphins. There they are greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy who, after being told what has happened, invites them to sit on the gilded throne. They are entertained by dances performed for them by the Sweets and Flowers of her Court.

In honor of the young heroine, they are entertained by dances performed for them by

the Sweets and Flowers of her Court with a celebration of sweets from around the world:

Chocolate from Spain, Coffee from Arabia, and Tea from China all dance for their amusement;

Candy Canes from Russia perform an intricate hoop dance;

Danish Marzipan Shepherdesses perform on their flutes;

Mother Gigogne has her Polichinelle children 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 Pas de Deux.

The Sugar Plum Fairy and the people of the Land of Sweets dance for Clara and the Prince in the dances of Dew Drop Fairy. Each Dance brings gifts for Clara and her Nutcracker Prince :

  • Spanish dancers bring chocolate

  • Arabian Maidens brings gifts of coffee

  • Russian Dancers dance a trepak, a vigorous men’s folk dance of leg flings and kicks {Candy Canes}

  • Chinese Dancers bring the gift of tea

  • Dance of the Mirlitons {Dance of the Reed-Flutes / Reed Pipes / Marzipan shepherds}, Shepherdesses bring gifts of Marzipan

  • Mother Gigogne and the clowns {Mother Ginger and her children / polichinelles / Bonbons / Taffy Clowns / Court Buffoons} This large lady brings her playful children to visit Clara and the Nutcracker in the Land of Sweets

  • The Waltz of Flowers: the Dew Drop Fairy leads the grand Waltz of the Flowers.

  • Pas de Deux: Sugar-Plum Fairy and her Cavalier

The Sugar Plum Fairy has welcomed Clara and The Nutcracker prince to her Land of Sweets. A final waltz is performed by all the sweets after which Clara and the Prince are crowned rulers of Confiturembourg forever and are shown the riches of their kingdom domed with an enormous beehive.

Marie and the Prince then bid farewell to their friends and sail off together to lands unknown.

The Dream Ends

Clara awakens from her dream and finds herself by her Christmas tree with her beloved Nutcracker.

History:  The Nutcracker Ballet is based on the story “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice” written by E.T.A. Hoffman written in 1812. When Marius Petipa had the idea to choreograph the story into a ballet, it was based on a revision by Alexander Dumas, a well known French author. In the original E.T.A. Hoffmann story, the young heroine is called Marie Stahlbaum and Clara (Klärchen) is the name of her doll. In the spirit of the fantasy, I have called her Clara.


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    One Response to “The Nutcracker Suite”

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