The Story of Nutcracker

The Story of Nutcracker

One unforgettable, magical Christmas Eve journey


On a foggy Christmas Eve in 1915, Drosselmeyer puts the finishing touches on a magical nutcracker doll. It’s his gift for the Stahlbaum family, who have invited him to join their holiday festivities. Customers drop by his shop for last-minute Christmas gifts and Drosselmeyer shows them toys and clocks. Later, outside the Stahlbaum house, as people hurry home to their Christmas revelries, Drosselmeyer arrives with his beautifully wrapped present.

Act I

In the Stahlbaums’ sitting room, family and friends merrily trim the tree. Clara, Fritz, and their friends descend the staircase to see—for the very first time—electric lights glowing on their Christmas tree! The children jump with glee. As they play with new Christmas toys, Dr. Stahlbaum invites the guests to dance. Clara joins the adults, dancing with her father.

San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson’s Nutcracker // © Erik Tomasson

Drosselmeyer—known as “Uncle Drosselmeyer” to the Stahlbaums—warmly greets the family and entertains everyone with magic. The children are delighted by an acrobatic jack-in-the-box and a beautiful, life-sized ballerina doll.

Uncle Drosselmeyer then opens his gift and presents the magical nutcracker to Clara. Captivated, she dances with the magical doll. Fritz is envious. He mischievously pulls the nutcracker from his sister's hands, breaking it.

Drosselmeyer carefully bandages the doll and returns it to Clara, who plays with it gently. The Stahlbaum grandparents begin their annual holiday dance and all join in.

As he hour grows late, guests drift home and the Stahlbaums go upstairs to bed. Too excited to sleep, Clara returns to the darkened sitting room in search of her nutcracker doll.  As the clock strikes midnight, she falls asleep on the sofa.

Rubén Martín Cintas in Tomasson’s Nutcracker // © Erik Tomasson

As Clara dreams, she relives memories of the evening. Deep within her dream, Uncle Drosselmeyer appears and mends the nutcracker doll. As Clara wakens into her dream, her house begins to expand around her. Drosselmeyer makes the Christmas tree grows wondrously large over now tiny Clara.

Giant mice appear, frightening Clara. The nutcracker doll comes to life to defend her. He summons an army of toy soldiers from the cupboard and a fierce battle ensues.

San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson’s Nutcracker // © Erik Tomasson

The ferocious King of the Mice challenges the Nutcracker to a duel. Clara’s quick thinking helps the Nutcracker defeat the King of the Mice.

After the battle, the Nutcracker collapses. Heartbroken, Clara begs Uncle Drosselmeyer for help. Magically, he transforms the Nutcracker into a dashing Prince. The Prince thanks Clara for saving him, and together they embark on an enchanting journey through the Land of Snow.

As snow falls, snowflakes begin to dance. The King and Queen of Snow send Clara and the Prince off to their next adventure in a beautiful sleigh pulled by crystal horses.

Act II

In the garden of a Crystal Palace, ladybugs, dragonflies, and butterflies dance.

San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson’s Nutcracker // © Erik Tomasson

The Sugar Plum Fairy welcomes Clara and the Prince and asks them to tell her about the adventure that brought them to her world. The Prince recounts his tale of war with the King of the Mice and describes Clara’s bravery. The Sugar Plum Fairy commands a festival filled with dancing to honor her guests.

The celebration begins with Spanish flair, followed by an alluring Arabian genie, whirling performers from China, and flirtatious French dancers with fluttery ribbons.

Russian dancers fly through the air with joy and verve. The famous Madame du Cirque is filled with many small surprises—including a dancing bear!

The Sugar Plum Fairy waltzes with her court of Flowers, dazzling Clara and the Prince. As the festivities draw to a close, the Sugar Plum Fairy and Uncle Drosselmeyer grant Clara her greatest Christmas wish by transforming her into a beautiful ballerina so that she can dance in the arms of her Prince.

Clara awakens, still smiling from her joyous dream. It is Christmas morning, and the nutcracker doll is safe in her arms.

San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson’s Nutcracker // © Erik Tomasson


Nutcracker runs December 13–30, 2023


Header Image: Rubén Martín Cítores in Tomasson’s Nutcracker // © Erik Tomasson