Scene 1. Counsellor Stahlbaum´s Kitchen
ballet begins in the kitchen of Counsellor Stahlbaum´s house, where
preparations for the holiday dinner are underway. Before the stunned
kitchen maids sausage-people, a human soup tureen, and a platter with a
boar´s head stride in on human legs. All these metamorphoses dissipate
when these apparitions turn out to be cooks carrying delicacies on
As the scene continues, the world of the kitchen
acquires an even more Hoffmannesque character. A cook attempting to cut
a slice of cheese is surprised to discover a naughty little rat inside
the cheese. The startled rat dashes out between the cook´s legs and
heads for the kitchen, creating panic and havoc among the kitchen staff
who then, to their horror, realize that one of the sous-chefs is also a
rat in disguise.
Counsellor and Mrs. Stahlbaum come to the kitchen
with their children Masha and Fritz, who hope for a taste. The favorite
child, Fritz, gets a sweet, while Masha is rudely pushed aside.
staff and members of the Stahlbaum family leave the kitchen and rat
hooligans of all ages emerge from every nook and cranny and set to
feasting. In the heat of the festivities the Rat Cardinal Kryselieu and
Masha´s godfather Drosselmeyer appear, Drosselmeyer with his young
nephew the Nutcracker.
Intermedia. The Dressing Room
Counsellor Stahlbaum and his wife come to their dressing room to dress for the Christmas party, followed by their children.
the adults preen in front of their respective mirrors – the
Counsellor´s convex mirror reflects everything wider, while Mrs.
Stahlbaum´s concave mirror stretches the reflection vertically –
servants propose garment after garment. The parents find nothing to
their liking, and settle on the house-coats they are already wearing.
The spoiled Fritz gets a Napoleonic hat to wear, while Masha, through
whose eyes we see the closet, enormous, foreboding, dark, is once again
Scene 2. The Christmas Party
Stahlbaum´s guests gather for Christmas dinner. Masha´s godfather
Drosselmeyer arrives. He presents his automatic dolls to the assembled
company: The Recruit and his Canteen Girl and two Cossacks.
Drosselmeyer gives Grandfather Stahlbaum an enormous pipe, Fritz a
miniature bridge for toy soldiers.
Masha is left with the toy no one
wants, the Nutcracker. She is charmed by the Nutcracker´s agility
cracking nuts, and she senses that he is not just a toy. The guests
retire to the table at the back of the room for dinner.
and his Bonapartist friend observe the festivities from their chairs,
then Grandfather decides to lead a dance. He dances vigorously and
becomes so carried away that he loses one of his shoes in the process.
Intermedia I. The Wine Cellar: The Guests Depart
the party, the guests file out through the wine cellar into the snowy
night. The last to leave is Drosselmeyer, holding aloft a platter with
the boar´s head from dinner, licked clean to the bone.
Intermedia II. The Transformation
the guests have left and the household has retired for the night, Masha
slips back to the parlor to see the Nutcracker. In the darkness she
sees rats in ball gowns. Frightened, she faints. The rats disappear.
The parlor clock strikes midnight. The transformation begins.
Scene 3. The Battle
Masha awakens from her fainting spell, she sees that the parlor has
become enormously large, so large that she is the size of a toy. She
hears fanfares. Drosselmeyer swings on the pendulum of the grandfather
clock. Masha watches in terror as the rat army rallies before the Rat
Emperor. The army is commanded by a Rat Napoleon, quite reminiscent of
her spoiled brother Fritz. The Nutcracker´s soldiers appear, and the
battle begins. The Rat Emperor forgets his pride and slips out of his
mantle, which, as it turns out, is nothing but a false carcass.
his haste to escape danger, the Emperor leaves the royal mantle and six
of his terrifying heads behind and dashes for cover in Drosselmeyer´s
wig, along with the Queen and their two small children. The Crown
Prince remains in the fray, battling the Nutcracker.
The battle rages. Masha is so alarmed by the fighting that she hides in Grandfather´s shoe.
The Nutcracker fights with the Crown Prince one on one.
Masha manages to deal the Crown Prince a blow to the head with her own shoe, taking advantage of the height of her perch.
Crown Prince is stunned for a moment, and the Nutcracker deals him a
final blow with his sword. The wounded Prince accepts defeat, gallantly
saluting Masha. The Rat Emperor gives Masha a royal mantle. Masha and
the Nutcracker mount the shoe and ascend into the branches of the tree.
Masha and the Nutcracker
travel in Grandfather´s shoe through the night sky, above the rooftops
of the sleeping town. The only lighted window is in the sweets shop
Scene 4. The Snowstorm
begins to fall. Masha and the Nutcracker are forced to make a stop in
their journey. They alight in an abandoned churchyard where strange
cocoons hang from the trees. Snowflakes, led by their Queen, surround
Masha. Masha dances with them. The dance gets faster and faster,
becoming a real blizzard that could cost Masha her life. The Nutcracker
rescues her, and Drosselmeyer stops the storm.
Scene 1. Confiturenburg, The Sweets Shop
and the Nutcracker finally arrive in Confiturenburg, seen through the
window of the sweets shop. It is filled with candies and pastries and
with sweets-loving flies and bees; doctors ready to pull rotten teeth
or cure a sick stomach wander about. Masha and the Nutcracker are
greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Nutcracker´s four sisters.
Suddenly the Fly-Person attacks the Nutcracker, who successfully fights
The inhabitants of Confiturenburg present dances for Masha
and the Nutcracker. Masha is stunned by the extraordinary spectacle. In
a burst of feeling she runs to the Nutcracker and kisses him. Her kiss
breaks the spell and the Nutcracker is transformed into a Prince. Their
wedding waltz begins.
Intermedia. Outside the Shop
the wintry street outside Confiturenburg stands a distraught
Drosselmeyer. The window is boarded up, and light comes through the
cracks between the planks. Drosselmeyer tries desperately to see what
is happening within.