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Saturday, July 26, 2014


I went to see Coppelia at the Coliseum in London performed by English National Ballet.

The choreography is by Arthur Saint-Leon and the music by Delibes (very recognisable).

The plot? well

Act 1 

The story begins during a town festival to celebrate the arrival of a new bell. The town crier announces that, when it arrives, anyone who becomes married will be awarded a special gift of money. Swanhilde and Franz plan to marry during the festival. However, Swanhilde becomes unhappy with Franz because he seems to be paying more attention to a girl named Coppélia, who sits on the balcony of a nearby house. The house belongs to a mysterious and faintly diabolical inventor, Doctor Coppélius. Although Coppélia spends all of her time sitting motionless and reading, Franz is mesmerized by her beauty and is determined to attract her attention. Still upset with Franz, Swanhilde shakes an ear of wheat to her head: if it rattles, then she will know that Franz loves her. Upon doing this however, she hears nothing. When she shakes it by Franz's head, he also hears nothing; but then he tells her that it rattles. However, she does not believe him and runs away heartbroken. Later on, Dr. Coppelius leaves his house and is heckled by a group of boys. After shooing them away, he continues on without realising that he dropped his keys in the melée. Swanhilde finds the keys, which gives her the idea of learning more about Coppélia. She and her girlfriends decide to enter Dr. Coppelius’s house. Meanwhile, Franz develops his own plan to meet Coppélia, climbing a ladder to her balcony.

Given that Coppelia is often a first ballet for many youngster no ENO style mucking about a nice traditional village setting with idealised costumes. The plot (which is pretty weak) moved along and was nicely danced by Erina Takahashi (Swanhilda) and Fernando Bufala (Franz) the later was particulary good.

Act II
Swanhilde and her friends find themselves in a large room filled with people. However, the occupants aren't moving. The girls discover that, rather than people, these are life-size mechanical dolls. They quickly wind them up and watch them move. Swanhilde also finds Coppélia behind a curtain and discovers that she, too, is a doll.

Dr. Coppelius returns home to find the girls. He becomes angry with them, not only for trespassing but for also disturbing his workroom. He kicks them out and begins cleaning up the mess. However, upon noticing Franz at the window, Coppélius invites him in. The inventor wants to bring Coppelia to life but, to do that, he needs a human sacrifice. With a magic spell, he will take Franz’s spirit and transfer it to Coppélia. After Dr. Coppelius proffers him some wine laced with sleeping powder, Franz begins to fall asleep. The inventor then readies his magic spell.

However, Dr. Coppelius did not expel all the girls: Swanhilde is still there, hidden behind a curtain. She dresses up in Coppelia’s clothes and pretends that the doll has come to life. She wakes Franz and then winds up all the mechanical dolls to aid their escape. Dr. Coppelius becomes confused and then saddened when he finds a lifeless Coppélia behind the curtain.

All a bit silly perhaps but we suspend our belief to watch the beautiful lines the dancers make and how they interpret the music and make the plot partially believable. And there was humour here which was nicely done.

and then we come to

Swanhilde and Franz are about to make their wedding vows when the angry Dr. Coppelius appears, claiming damages. Dismayed at having caused such an upset, Swanhilde offers Dr. Coppelius her dowry in return for his forgiveness. However, Swanhilde's father tells Swanhilde to keep her dowry and offers to pay Dr. Coppelius instead. At that point, the mayor intervenes and gives Dr. Coppelius a bag of money, which placates him. Swanhilde and Franz are married and the entire town celebrates by dancing.

And here the plot, which as I've said is pretty weak anyway, breaks down Dr Coppelious appears for about a minute. Well frankly there is no plot it's an excuse for lots of dancers to have spots and to get a round of applause. Now don't get me wrong the applause was merited both leads danced well as did the rest of the cast but little  of it added to the story.

If I sound a bit down on it then let me say I did enjoy it but unlike say a Giselle or a Romeo & Juliet I won't rush back to see it.

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