28 November 2019 – 7 January 2020
The performance lasts about 2 hours and 35 minutes, including two intervals.
Cast (opening night, 28 November 2019)
Swanilda: Francesca Hayward
Franz: Alexander Campbell
Dr Coppélius: Gary Avis
Coppélia was a landmark production when it first hit the stage in 1870. Its positive mood marked a break with the rather heavier, more serious dance theatre that had gone before.
The choreographer, Arthur Saint-Léon, had chosen Adèle Grantzow, a young German dancer from the Bolshoi in Russia to play the part of Swanhilda, the female lead. Unfortunately, she got injured, and a new ballerina had to be found… the promoters embarked on a trawl of the local ballet schools and settled on a 15-year-old Italian girl who'd come to Paris to study.
By the time the premiere eventually rolled around in May 1870, Giuseppina Bozzacchi had turned 16. Napoleon III and his Empress Eugénie were in the audience.
Just nine weeks after the premiere, France was at war with Prussia. The Prussians laid siege to Paris. Saint-Léon suffered a fatal heart attack. The young ballerina fell victim to smallpox. Adequate treatment was not available, and on her 17th birthday, she died. [extracts from the Irish Independent]
Company: The Royal Ballet
Choreography: Ninette de Valois
Original choreography: Lev Ivanov and Enrico Cecchetti
Music: Léo Delibes
Scenario: Charles Nuitter and Arthur Saint-Léon
Designer: Osbert Lancaster
Lighting designer: John B. Read
Toymaker Dr Coppélius seems to have a beautiful young woman in his house: Coppélia, who sits and reads on his balcony. Franz and his fellow young villagers are curious about her and how she ignores them all. Franz's fiancée Swanilda is not pleased by Franz's interest in another woman, but equally curious. When Dr Coppélius goes to the local tavern, the young villagers slip into his house to introduce themselves to the strangely silent young woman.
In the house, they are astonished by several mechanical dolls, including Coppélia. Coppélius returns and throws them all out – except Swanilda, who hides and takes Coppélia's place. When Franz climbs in through a window, Coppélius drugs him and attempts through magic to put his lifeforce into the mechanical Coppélia. Swanilda is able to trick him into believing his spell has worked. In the inevitable happy ending, Coppélius is placated, and Swanilda happily united with Franz as the villagers celebrate their new town bell.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.