Everyone who tried to write about Coppélia, couldn't agree more with words by George Balanchine, who named this brilliant work by Léo Delibes the ballet’s greatest comedy.
The smile keeps on lips while watching this ballet, full of humor, comic scenes and charismatic characters. It makes you plunge into world of confusion and charming chaos where a lovely girl proves that no ideal image can be compared with an alive and passionate woman, even with all her imperfections.
A timeless classic coming from the golden age of ballet, nowadays Coppelia is frequently performed on the world's leading stages. Tchaikovsky declared this music to be charming, delicate and melodically rich — all these czardas, mazurkas, waltzes… And Pierre Lacotte, unofficially crowned as «the best ballet reconstructor of the world», has restored the ballet, as close as possible to the text of its first choreographer, the greatest ballet wizard and magician of all times — Arthur Saint-Léon.
Since 1973, this window to the charming 19th century was opened only in Paris Opera, but in January 2019 it will be widely spread in Vienna thanks to the Wiener StaatsBallett and its artistic leader Manuel Legris. And in a few short weeks, in April 2019, this ballet miracle will be presented to the audience of the Dance Open festival.
By the Coppelia the festival carries on tradition to present in St. Petersburg legendary ballets of the past. In 2016 Romeo and Juliet by Sir Kenneth Macmillan reconstructed by the Perm Ballet opened this festival line. Last year it was maintained by Sergei Vikharev’s revival of Marius Petipa’s La Fille Mal Gardée for the Ekaterinburg Ballet. And in upcoming 2019 the audience will have a unique opportunity to enjoy Coppélia almost the same as it was created by Saint-Léon and met with applause at the court of Napoleon III.
World premiere: January 27, 2019, Vienna Volksoper
Duration: 2 hours 15 minutes with two intermissions
This ballet is a great example of classic repertoire’s finesse. It brings to the stage a magnificent world of happy peasants in a village. You will plunge into a brilliant and melodious universe. A taste of childhood which admires you in a dancing fairytale, mysterious, where the deception and mischief keep the interest of spectator.
The chance to experience ballet’s breadth, depth, wit and scale in a parade of musically deft dances and pitch-perfect comedy.
Indulgent, traditional and pastel-hued, it’s the ballet equivalent of a Laduree macacron. But buoyant and bucolic as it is, it remains just knowing enough to avoid feeling saccharine.
Music: Léo Delibes
Libretto: Ch. Nuitter and A. Saint-Léon
Choreography: Pierre Lacotte (acts I and II after Arthur Saint-Léon)
Set design and costumes: after the original drafts for Paris (1870) adapted by P. Lacotte
Realisation of the set design: Jean-Luc Simonini
Сostumes: Michel Ronvaux
Lighting Designer: Jacques Giovanangeli
Staging: Anne Salmon Additional music arranged and edited by Lars Payne and partly orchestrated by Gavin Sutherland
Music produced by the orchestra of Volksoper Wien, conductor: Simon Hewett
Performed by: :
Swanilda — Natascha Mair/Maria Yakovleva
Franz — Denys Cherevychko/Jakob Feyferlik
Coppélius — Alexis Forabosco/Gabor Oberegger
Mayor — Franz Peter Karolyi
Peasant — Emilia Baranowicz
Swanilda’s friends — Elena Bottaro, Adele Fiocchi,Sveva Gargiulo, Eszter Ledán, Anita Manolova, Fiona McGee, Isabella Lucia Severi, Rikako Shibamoto
Chinese doll — Nicola Barbarossa
Persian doll — Marat Davletshin
Cymbal player — Hanno Opperman
Coppélia doll — Joana Reinprecht
Aurora, the Dawn — Nina Tonoli
The Night — Madison Young
The Twilight — James Stephens
Lord of the manor — Christoph Wenzel Mazurka, Pas de Bottes, Brides, Fiancés, Spinning women,
the twelve Hours — M. Breuilles, N. Butchko, L. Cislaghi, V. Csonka, S. Gargiulo, G. Jovanovic, O. Kiyanenko, A. Klochkova, Z. Laczkó,A. Manolova, F. McGee, K. Miffek,S. Opperman, X. Qu, J. Reinprecht, A. Rogers-Maman, R. Shibamoto, F. Soares, Iu. Tcaciuc, C. Uderzo, C. J. Weder,B. Wiedner; N. Barbarossa, L. Basílio,G. Cusin, M. Davletshin, M. Furnica, A. Garcia Torres, T. Hayden, A. Lukács,S. McKenzie, I. Milos, K. Pavelka, T. Ridel,G. Signorelli, Z. Török, N. Turnbull,A. Vandervelde, G. Wielick.
A public square in a small town on the Galician border. A small window on one of the buildings opens slightly: Swanilda looks to see if she is being observed by anyone. She is alone and comes out. She stands in front of the house of Coppélius and looks up at the big glass window, behind which a girl can be seen sitting motionless with a book in her hand, apparently absorbed in reading. Swanilda knows this girl well: she is Coppélia, the daughter of old Coppélius. Every morning she is to be seen sitting in the same place at the window of this mysterious house, from which she has never emerged. Swanilda’s curiosity is all the greater because she suspects that her fiancé Franz is not entirely indifferent to Coppélia’s beauty. Perhaps he is in love with her. Swanilda scowls at her rival as she sits there motionless and silent. She tries to attract Coppélia’s attention, walking a little way, returning and dancing. But Coppélia’s eyes remain fixed on her book, although she never turns a single page. Coppélius appears at the lower window. Swanilda stands to the side. At the same time she sees Franz coming along and stays in her hiding place to see what he will do. Franz initially goes towards Swanilda’s house, but suddenly hesitates. Coppéliais at her window. He greets her. At that moment she turns her head. The hand which is holding the book is lowered and with her other hand the girl (now standing) seems to return Franz’s greeting. Then she sits down again. At first Swanilda pretends not to have seen anything. She runs after a butterfly, and Franz accompanies her. He catches it and triumphantly attaches it to the collar of his coat. Swanilda accuses him of being cruel: “What has the poor little creature done to you?”. Swanilda continues to reproach Franz and tells him that she knows everything. He is deceiving her, he loves Coppélia; he has just been blowing kisses at her. 52 53 A crowd of young and old people now appear. The mayor has called them to the square to announce a piece of news: the lord of the manor has given the town a bell. Tomorrow there will be dancing, and the day will end with festivities at which the most beautiful girls will play a part. The townspeople’s attention is momentarily distracted by a loud noise coming from the house of Coppélius. A red light can be seen at the windows. “It is nothing. It is the beating of a hammer on the anvil, the reflection of the forge. Coppélius is an old fool who spends all his time working.” The mayor turns to Swanilda. Tomorrow the lord of the manor wishes to give money to young couples who are getting married. Is she not betrothed to Franz? Swanilda gives Franz a mischievous look and tells a story: the story of an ear of wheat that reveals all secret
Ballad of the Ear of Wheat
Swanilda takes an ear of wheat from a sheaf. She holds it to her ear and seems to listen, then she tells Franz to listen too: does the ear of wheat not tell him that he is unfaithful? Franz says he can hear nothing – because he doesn’t want to hear anything! Swanilda repeats the test with one of Franz’s friends, who smiles and pretends to hear exactly what the ear of wheat is telling him. Franz tries to protest, but Swanilda stops him, telling him that everything is over between them. She breaks the ear of wheat in front of him. The downcast Franz goes off, while Swanilda dances among her friends. Tables are set up, and everyone drinks to the health of the lord of the manor and the mayor. Night falls, and the crowd gradually disperses. Coppélius comes out of his house and locks the door twice. He has only gone a few steps when he is surrounded by a group of young people who want to inveigle him into joining in the dance. The old man querulously pushes them away and goes off, grumbling to himself. Swanilda bids farewell to her friends and heads home. One of the girls sees something shining on the ground: it is a key, which Coppélius dropped as he jostled with the crowd. The temptation is too great. Swanilda wants to get to know her rival. Is that Franz moving between the trees, creeping around? Doubtless he is trying to see Coppélia. Jealousy destroys the last of Swanilda’s scruples. She is determined to enter the doctor’s house. The heavy key fits in the lock, and the door opens. Swanilda and her companions enter the house of Coppélius. They have only just disappeared into the house when Franz is seen approaching, carrying a ladder. After being rejected by Swanilda, he has decided to try his luck and release the beautiful prisoner. The opportunity is favourable … Coppélius is away from the house … But no. At the very moment when Franz leans his ladder up against the balcony, we see Coppélius returning, anxiously looking for his keys. He catches sight of Franz just as he is climbing the first few rungs. Franz hears him coming, jumps nimbly down and makes his escape.
The workshop of Coppélius. It is night. The girls move forward cautiously, staying close together while they examine this strange room which until recently has made them fearful. Swanilda approaches the window, across which the long curtains have been drawn. She opens the curtains. Coppélia is sitting there as she always is, holding her book in her hand. Swanilda steps nearer. She touches Coppélia’s arm, then steps backwards and addresses her. Is she actually a living being? She puts her hand on Coppélia’s heart and feels no movement. This seductively beautiful girl, her rival, is a mechanical doll created by Coppélius. The girls’ fears have now vanished, and they boldly set about exploring the workshop. They discover some more mechanical dolls and set them in motion: the silvery chime of the cymbals played by a little moor doll accompany the strange melody of a dulcimer player. Suddenly the furious Coppélius appears from nowhere. He closes the curtains and switches off the machines. The girls run away. Swanilda courageously hides in a corner. Fremdsprachige Inhalte Fremdsprachige Inhalte 54 55 Through the rear window, which remains half open, we see the top rungs of a ladder, and Franz reappears. Undeterred, he has kept to his plan. The scheming Coppélius remains hidden and allows Franz to enter. Franz is approaching Coppélia when he is seized and held fast by two strong arms. He begs Coppélius’ forgiveness and confesses that he is in love. “Well then,” replies the old man, “I am not as bad as people say. Sit down, have a drink, let us talk!” They drink to each other’s health, but Coppélius secretly pours away his own drink. Franz soon feels his legs getting weak. His head is spinning, and he collapses on to a bench and goes to sleep. Coppélius makes a triumphant gesture. At last he can bring his magic project to fruition. He fetches his book of magic and carefully studies the spells. Then he opens the curtains and pushes the pedestal on which Coppélia is standing towards Franz. He then places his trembling hands on the young man’s forehead and chest. It seems that he wants to capture his soul so that he can bring to life the girl he has so painstakingly created over the course of many sleepless nights. He places his hands on the girl again. Coppélia stands up as she usually does and starts to make the same movements, allowing the book she is holding to fall from her hand. She takes one step, then another. She gets down from the top step of the pedestal, then from the bottom step … she is alive! Coppélius is overjoyed. The girl’s features come to life. Yes, she is looking at him! Are his senses deceiving him? He takes another spark of life from Franz and transfers it to Coppélia. Now she is walking around, and with every step her movements become more flowing as her steps become less rigid. She dances, slowly at first and then so fast that Coppélius has trouble keeping up with her. Her eyes, once so fixed, are now full of life and expression. She smiles at life, beaming as everything in her comes to life … she is becoming a woman.
Dance of the Dolls
Now she shows different moods: she discovers the magic potion which has intoxicated Franz and wants to try some for herself. Raising it to her lips, she leafs through the magic book and asks Coppélius what it means. She examines the mechanical dolls curiously and stops when she comes to Franz. Fremdsprachige Inhalte She sees a sword and seizes it … she tests the point on her fingertip and amuses herself by plunging the sword into the little Moorish doll. Coppélius bursts into peals of laughter … but now she turns to Franz and seems to want to do the same to him. The old man stops her. Now she turns on him and pursues him around the room. He is at a loss as to how to calm her down. He tries to appeal to her vanity and hands her a mantilla. But touching this mantilla seems to open up a whole world of new world of ideas for her. She dances a Spanish dance (bolero), then finds a piece of tartan and dances a gigue. Coppélius succeeds in bringing her to a standstill and forces her to climb back on to her pedestal, then he draws the curtains so that she is once more concealed. He now approaches Franz, who has been roused by all the noise. He chases Franz away and orders him to depart by the same way as he arrived, pushing him out of the window. “Go away!” he tells him. “Go away! You are no use to me any more!” Then he suddenly stops. Did he not just hear the noise of air moving that normally accompanies his creation’s mechanism? Coppélia has reverted to making only mechanical movements. At the same moment Coppélius notices Swanilda in the background, as she escapes with Franz. He begins to understand that they have been playing a trick on him. Feeling that he is about to lose his mind, he collapses in exhaustion amongst the dolls he has created, which seem to be laughing at their master’s pain.
In front of the lord’s castle. The bell has been dedicated, and the betrothed couples who are to be given gifts of money and married on this feast day are being presented to the lord of the manor. Swanilda forgives Franz and steps forward with him. A movement is seen among the people: Coppélius is making his way through the crowd. He presents his complaint and demands justice. He has become a laughing stock, everything is broken, and great damage has been done in his house. Who will compensate him? Fremdsprachige Inhalte 56 Swanilda, who has received her gift of money, spontaneously offers this to the old man. But the general joy is infectious, and no one is immune: Coppélius hands back the bag of money. The feasting starts: the wedding procession, which now becomes an allegory, returns to the village. We see, in succession, the hours of the day, the hours of the night, spinning women, brides. Strange noises are suddenly heard. It is war, and discord prevails. Franz, who is leading the young people, carries a spear and is wearing a suit of armour. But all becomes calm again. Swanilda, who symbolises peace, disarms Franz, and the two celebrate their wedding.