Klaara, her younger brother Pekka and her older sister Liisa are getting ready for the Christmas feast. Families with their children arrive at the house where they live. The last people to arrive are old Mr Drosselmeier and his young nephew, a naval cadet. Drosselmeier, an eccentric and rather mysterious old man with a passion for clocks and all kinds of mechanical objects, holds the children in thrall with his conjuring tricks.
The room is full of friends and cousins of Klaara. Father Christmas comes in with the Christmas goat. At first the children are frightened but are delighted when they are given all kinds of presents. Drosselmeier and his nephew bring in a magic lantern. Using lantern sides Drosselmeier tells the story of the young Princess who rejects the Mouse King’s offer of a marriage because she has promised her heart to a handsome Prince. The Mouse King fights a duel with the Prince and the Prince is transformed into a wooden doll, a Nutcracker.
The story makes a deep impression on Klaara. She feels sorry for the Nutcracker doll and is immediately enchanted by him, but her heart is also won over by Drosselmeier’s nephew and, in her imagination, she identifies him with the bewitched Prince.
It is time for the children to go to bed. Klaara returns to the drawing room where she encounters the nephew who has forgotten his hat. In a romantic gesture she gives him her hair-ribbon as a keepsake. He is surprised, quite unaware that he had captured the young girl’s heart.
Klaara is put to bed and she dreams that the Mouse King appears in her room. Klaara jumps out of her bed and runs through the dark house in the drawing room to save the Nutcracker.
The room fills up with gruesome mice who chase after her. From the cupboard, which is gradually changing into a fort, the Nutcracker emerges. He, too, has grown much bigger and at first strikes fear into the mice.
There ensues a duel between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The Nutcracker falls wounded. Pekka returns accompanied by mounted hussars, but to no avail: the Mouse King is too strong, the hussars cannot lift their heavy sabres and the mice and rats chase everyone away. Pekka and his soldiers are taken prisoners, leaving Klaara and the Nutcracker behind in despair.
Klaara dreams that the chains fall away and that a great love springs up between her and the Nutcracker. Once again she binds him up with a ribbon and puts him to bed. He then rises up and changes into a Prince with the same features as Drosselmeier’s nephew.
The Snow temporarily pushes the mice to the background. Drosselmeier appears with his magic lantern. Drosselmeier leads Klaara and the Nutcracker into the magic lantern.
Drosselmeier, Klaara and the Nutcracker arrive deep inside the magic lantern – this is Drosselmeier’s kingdom. Suddenly, however, the Mouse King and his rats fight their way into the magic lantern. Drosselmeier frightens them. Another duel takes place and the Nutcracker succeeds at last in killing the Mouse King. The mice all disappear and the spell is broken: the Nutcracker finally turns into the Prince for good.
The magic lantern brings Klaara and the Prince into strange countries. Klaara wakes up and Pekka comes in. Miraculously, they have had the same dream. They realize for the first time how much they care for each other.
The full synopsis and other background information will be available in the programme leaflet.