It is Christmas Eve. A blanket of snow covers the city of Nuremberg, and a bright Christmas star glows in the sky.
As George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ opens, Dr. and Frau Stahlbaum add last minute decorations to the magnificent tree in their living room. Their children, Marie and Fritz, are in the drawing room, playing and waiting for family and friends to arrive. When they do, the parents are the first to gather in the living room. They call the children in and watch their excited reactions to the tree and the fancy wrapped gifts surrounding it. The tree is a marvel, with branches full of sugar plum candies, wooden toys, sparkling candles, and marzipan animals.