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It's Christmas Eve and Mayor Stahlbaum and his wife prepare for their annual Christmas party. Excited guests make their way to the mayor's house as the children enjoy the snow and chill outside the city.


Inside the Stahlbaum's house, Clara and Fritz are impatiently waiting to be allowed into the parlor where their parents entertain guests-and where presents are waiting. Their godfather, Uncle Drosselmeyer, attends the party each year, and always brings surprises!


Uncle Drosselmeyer is an eccentric doll maker. He is always inventing new mechanical toys and has prepared a special treat for this year's party. First he demonstrates his newest mechanical dolls: A Boy Doll, a Dancing Girl Doll, and a brave looking Soldier Doll. Finally, he presents his god-children with a doll made for cracking mounds of traditional Christmas nuts, The Nutcracker. The children are thoroughly delighted by this wooden soldier until Fritz, cheered on by his mischievous friends, breaks the toy. Clara is devastated, but Uncle Drosselmeyer repairs the lovely Nutcracker and leaves it to Clara's care. Clara returns to the ballroom to see that the new Nutcracker toy is still safe. As the clock's bell pronounces midnight, strange things begin to happen: hungry mice are closing in, walls disappear, her bed is moving through the house-the Christmas tree is growing in the parlor-and so is she! Clara is frightened by the mice, and runs to protect the Nutcracker doll, but discovers the Nutcracker is growing, too. The Nutcracker calls upon Fritz's toy soldiers, now also grown, to battle the mice. Clara helps the Nutcracker defeat the mice and the wicked Mouse King.


The Nutcracker has been liberated through her courageous defeat of the Mouse King and turned into a Prince. He takes her away to his kingdom, surrounded by the dancing snowflakes and led by their Snow King and his
Queen. After a long voyage, Clara and the Nutcracker Prince arrive at the gates of the Kingdom of Sweets, greeted by angels.


The Sugar Plum Fairy then summons countless representatives of different nations, representing a wide range of sweet and delicious delicacies. After the festivities of the sweets and dancing, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier perform virtuoso dances in Clara's honor. Listen for the special sound of the celesta, a new instrument for which this is the first know piece composed.

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